15 Apr 2016

Fiji quick to deny supposed South China Sea support

10:22 am on 15 April 2016

Fiji's government insists it has no position on the South China Sea dispute, after China's foreign ministry suggested otherwise.

A statement was issued after a meeting between the two countries' Foreign ministers, and Fiji's government was quick to pour cold water on the assertion.

Wang Yi and Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met in Beijing on Wednesday, which was followed by a joint press release from China's foreign ministry which said Fiji supported Beijing's position on the South China Sea.

The sea - one of the world's major trade routes - is a source of major geopolitical tension.

China claims almost all of it as its own territory, and in recent years has built artificial islands with airstrips and stepped up its military presence.

This has angered many southeast Asian nations which have competing territorial claims, and the United States has embarked on naval patrols citing freedom of navigation in what it considers open water.

But Fiji's Information Ministry was quick to issue a statement of its own, saying it does not support China's position, and has a policy of strict non-alignment.

It says Fiji believes in the strict adherence and enforcement of international law, and called for all parties to resolve disputes by peaceful means.