Beijing won’t permit other nations to infringe on what it considers its sovereign rights in the strategically vital area, China said on Tuesday, taking a tough stance on its claim to almost entire South China Sea.
Speaking to reporters at an annual news conference in Beijing, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that another nation’s claim to freedom of navigation in the region doesn’t give it the right to do whatever it wants — in a tacit reference to the US.
Recently, the US has deployed an aircraft carrier and several ships accompanying it into the South China Sea where China is building artificial islands.
Mr Wang refuted the allegations that China is militarising the area by building military bases on artificial islands. “China’s development there was defensive and that other nations were being militaristic — not China,” he said. He further added that China cannot be labeled as the most militaristic. This label is more suited to other countries.
Mr Wang yet again echoed China’s stand saying the artificial islands are ‘integral’ part of China’s territory that every ‘Chinese is obligated to defend’. China is involved in a number of territorial disputes in the region with six Asian countries having counter claims.
He also said that China is building more facilities for civilian use, besides meeting defence. He added that the facilities on the islands will also offer services to the international community.
“China and the United States are two major countries, and there are both cooperation and friction between them. In the face of problems, our task is to resolve them. We want to expand and deepen cooperation and work hard to turn friction into cooperation,” Mr Wang added.
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