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China Hits Back at G7 Criticism on Sea Claims

FILE - This photo taken through a window of a military plane shows China's apparent reclamation of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, May 11, 2015.

China on Tuesday slammed the Group of Seven (G7) nations for making "irresponsible remarks" about Beijing's disputed territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

In a statement at the end of a summit in Germany on Monday, G7 leaders expressed concern about Asian maritime tensions and called on all sides to respect international law.

"We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large-scale land reclamation," the G7 statement said.

The comments were seen as a criticism of China's efforts to create artificial islands to enforce its claims in the South China Sea.

China's Foreign Ministry dismissed the G7 statement as being "far from the facts."

China has been reclaiming land and building airstrips and infrastructure in the Spratly islands, which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The area is rich in natural resources and is a main trade route.

Part of wider strategy

The land reclamation is part of China's wider strategy of slowly but steadily cementing its disputed sea claims. Many of China's neighbors have responded by developing closer military ties with one another.

The Philippines and Japan have said they plan to hold a fresh round round of naval drills in the South China Sea later this month. Manila and Tokyo last month conducted their first ever bilateral naval exercises.

Japan is involved in its own bitter, long-running dispute with China over a series of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Malaysian officials on Tuesday also said they plan to register an official protest with China over the incursion of a Chinese Coast Guard ship off the shore of Borneo Island.

The Chinese vessel is anchored near Luconia Shoals, within Malaysia's 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone, according to National Security Minister Shahidan Kassim's Facebook page.

Malaysia is a major trading partner with China and has generally tried to avoid major controversies related to its competing maritime claims with Beijing, though officials have recently hinted they may have no choice but to take a tougher stance.