July 14 (UPI) -- China claimed the United States was engaging in "intentional provocations" and harming peace and stability, the same day U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington rejects China's "unlawful maritime claims."
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Wednesday at a regular press briefing that the United States is "ignoring the historical backdrop of the South China Sea issue and violating international law.
"The U.S. government is deliberately provoking disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea, in violation of its public pledge not to take a stand in the South China Sea," Zhao said.
"This is a very irresponsible act that seeks to disrupt relations between China and ASEAN countries and destroy regional peace and stability."
According to the State Department, Blinken had said the United States is committed to ASEAN centrality and Southeast Asia's key role in the Indo-Pacific regional architecture, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.
Blinken also said the Biden administration "stands with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of [Chinese] coercion."
China's foreign ministry said the United States is in no position to claim it defends international law, citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Washington signed a related agreement in 1994 and recognizes the Convention as general international law but did not ratify the pact after opposition from Republicans in the U.S. Senate.
China's ASEAN neighbors who dispute Chinese claims in the South China Sea are reporting illegal activity including waste dumping in the waters.
The Philippines' defense ministry on Tuesday ordered an investigation into allegations of Chinese sewage dumping in disputed areas of the South China Sea, CNN Philippines reported.
U.S.-based tech firm Simularity first disclosed the activity.