Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies issued a statement Monday opposing any provocation in the South China Sea. The G7 meeting held in Hiroshima, Japan, also called for countries to observe international maritime laws in the region where China is locked in territorial disputes with nations including the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan.
“We express our strong opposition to any intimidating coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions,” the foreign ministers said in the statement.
China has rattled nerves in the region with its controversial reclamation work in the South China Sea. China’s construction of artificial islands on the reefs of South China Sea have been opposed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, who have also claimed certain parts of the region.
Reacting to the statement, China said that disputes in the region were being "exaggerated," according to the South China Morning Post.
"If the G7 wants to continue playing a major role in the world, it should take an attitude of seeking truth from the facts to handle the issues the international community is most concerned with at the moment," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reportedly told a daily news briefing.
The G7 statement also expressed concern over the situation in the East China Sea, where Japan and China are locked in a tussle over a few unclaimed islands.