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China to firmly defend sovereignty over South China Sea

There is no change in our position. China has indisputable sovereignty over SCS islands and adjacent Waters," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

China, Philippines, Chinese coastguard ships, Scarborough Shoal, South China Sea , SCS, Filipinos fishing, Philippine defence spokesman, world news, indian express As Trump administration fired its first salvo to counter China’s island building in disputed South China Sea, a perturbed Beijing hit back saying it will firmly safeguard its “indisputable sovereignty” irrespective of what America says. (Source: REUTERS Photo)

As Trump administration fired its first salvo to counter China’s island building in disputed South China Sea, a perturbed Beijing hit back saying it will firmly safeguard its “indisputable sovereignty” irrespective of what America says. “China’s position on the South China Sea (SCS) is clear and consistent. There is no change in our position. China has indisputable sovereignty over SCS islands and adjacent Waters,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

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Her comments came hours after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a stern warning to China, saying the US will protect its interests in the SCS and defend international territories from being taken over by “one country”. This is first direct comment by Trump administration after the tough talking billionaire took over as President on Friday, signalling an assertive policy on the SCS contrary to a cautious policy pursued by Obama administration.

“China’s action in SCS are legitimate, lawful and reasonable. Whatever other countries wants to do or say China’s determination to safeguard our maritime interests, sovereign rights and interests are firm,” Hua retorted.

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“We are also committed to work with other parties to address the issues through peaceful negotiations. The situation is turning for better. Agreement has been made to follow the dual track approach to address the SCS issue,” she said, referring to China’s efforts to pacify the Philippines and Vietnam to lower the conflict.

Besides the two countries, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also contest China’s claims over almost all of SCS.

“The US is not a party to the SCS issue. We urge the US to honour its commitments, fully respect the efforts of the regional countries and safe guard peace and stability in the SCS,” she said. But at the same time unlike in the past, Hua did not oppose US naval ships and bombers passing through if it is under international law.

Asked whether China would permit US military vessels to pass through the SCS, she said, “this is not a new question. We have said China respects the freedom of navigation and over flights in accordance with international law. So If it is keeping with international law we will support the freedom of navigation and over flights.”

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China in the past vehemently opposed US naval ships and bombers passing through SCS, saying the US is militarising the region by deliberately sending military vessels.

To another question whether China is worried over the rhetoric of Trump administration and fear any accidental conflict, she shot back saying “you are asking whether I am worried about the rhetoric. It is not for China to feel worried. Many observers and people are worried or concerned.”

Besides Spicer’s remarks, China is also exercised over Trump nominee for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s remarks that “we’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

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Reacting to his remarks, the Chinese official said United States would need to “wage war” to bar China’s access to the artificial islands staked with military equipments.

First published on: 24-01-2017 at 07:24:50 pm
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