The US and China have yet again upped the ante over the South China Sea dispute at the security summit in Singapore. Hitting out at Washington, Beijing said it is not afraid of any "trouble" emerging from the region.
Subsequent to the remarks made by US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter, China's Admiral Sun Jianguo told the conference: "Countries outside should play a constructive role in this regard, not the other way around. The South China Sea issue has become overheated because of the provocations of certain countries for their own selfish interests," according to the AFP news agency. "We do not make trouble but we have no fear of trouble."
The war of words between China, the US and several other countries which lay claim to the South China Sea region has constantly escalated in recent years. The tensions are sharply reflected at the Shangri-La discussions in Singapore with rival claimants accusing each other of adding to the volatility.
In a stinging response, Sun, top Chinese authority from the People's Liberation Army, emphasised: "We were not isolated in the past, we are not isolated now, we will not be isolated in the future. Nobody has the right to point fingers at China."
The Chinese admiral was responding to Carter's comments that China is setting itself behind a "Great Wall of isolation" by taking a belligerent stance on territorial matters including the row over the South China Sea region.
Carter said: "There is growing anxiety in this region, and in this room, about China's activities on the seas, in cyberspace, and in the region's airspace. Indeed, in the South China Sea, China has taken some expansive and unprecedented actions, that have generated concerns about China's strategic intentions."
The South China Sea region has become a breeding ground for bitter territorial disputes in recent months with rival parties stepping up their claims to mineral-rich islands and waters. The region is also vital for world trade.