Chinese Premier Li Warns Southeast Asia Nations Against 'Provocations' Remarks Follow Philippines Legal Challenge to Its Claims in South China Sea Li Keqiang, China's premier, said during a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia that China will 'respond firmly to provocations' in territorial disputes. BOAO, Chinaâ€”Premier Li Keqiang delivered a warning to Southeast Asian countries with whom China is embroiled in territorial disputes, saying that China will "respond firmly to provocations." His remarks, in a speech also peppered with calls for regional cooperation, follow a move by the Philippines last month to challenge China's claims to almost the entire South China Sea at a United Nations arbitration panel in The Hague, a legal gambit that has enraged China. They also come U.S. officials harden their rhetoric against China's increasing assertiveness in the region. This week, visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that this behavior risked conflict. In a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia, Mr. Li combined a strong message regarding China's sovereignty claims with soothing words aimed at reassuring a region that is growing nervous about China's military intentions. "I wish to emphasize that China is committed to peaceful development," he told delegates to the forum on Hainan, a southern island province through which China asserts sweeping administrative control over large tracts of the South China Sea. "We will give full support to initiatives that help strengthen maritime cooperation," he said. "On the other hand, we will respond firmly to provocations that undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea." He added: "We Chinese believe in repaying kindness with kindness and meeting wrongdoing with justice." China's definition of what constitutes a provocation is linked to its claims to what it calls "indisputable sovereignty" over 90% of the South China Sea and almost all of its islands, atolls and reefs. Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose declined to comment on Mr. Li's remarks in Boao. When neighbors like the Philippines and Vietnam seek to assert their own claimsâ€”including in their U.N.-mandated Special Economic Zones off their coastsâ€”Beijing regards this as an affront. It often responds with carefully calibrated shows of force sufficient to resist the challengeâ€”and even to change the status quo in its favorâ€”but not aggressive enough to risk military conflict. An example of these tactics is the way that Chinese maritime enforcement vessels have fenced off the Scarborough Shoal, one of the world's richest fishing grounds, which lie just off the Philippines coast. This was a response to Philippine efforts to chase off Chinese fishing boats. The U.S. is worried that China will broaden these tactics by declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone over the South China Sea in an effort to strengthen its territorial claims, just as it has done over the East China Sea, where it is in dispute with Japan over a set of uninhabited islands. Washington has explicitly warned Beijing against such a move. China has called the warnings from the U.S. "irresponsible." Chinese Premier Li Warns Southeast Asia Nations Against 'Provocations' - WSJ.com ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ China talks a bit too much. What in the name of Mao, does this paper tiger of a PM mean by China will "respond firmly to provocations."? Start a war? If China starts a war, will the others sit idle? The others may not care about the nation attacked, but would seriously d all to protest the undersea resources from falling into China's hand uncontested. No one wand China to become more powerful with abundance of natural resources, since already China is becoming a menace and the bully of the block. China is running scared that the UN arbitration council may favourably opine on Philippines' legal gambit, That will ruin China's quest to grab territories in the SCS, at least make all its 'historical' maps and claims look contrived, false and totally bogus, which it is in any case. Notwithstanding China's claim that China is committed to peaceful development, no country in the world believes that it is an honest statement. Action speaks greater than words. And China's action resounds of aggressive hegemonic pursuit gulping down islands and territories in a new form of Lebensraum,.