‘Freedom of navigation in South China Sea not a problem’

Washington, Feb 24 (IANS) Freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has not been a problem and demilitarisation in the region needs efforts of all parties related, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.

“The islands in the South China Sea have been Chinese territory since ancient times, and China has the right to safeguard its territorial sovereignty,” Xinhua quoted Wang as saying at a joint press conference with his US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday.

“At the same time, we insist that the issue should be solved peacefully through dialogue and consultations,” Wang said.

Turning a deaf ear to China’s calls for honouring its promise not to take sides on the maritime disputes, the US has since last October sent warships and military jets to deliberately violate the country’s territorial waters in the South China Sea.

Kerry said that the US has the so-called “freedom of navigation” right in the South China Sea.

“In fact, there has never been such a problem with freedom of navigation in the South China Sea,” Wang said, adding “the situation in the South China Sea is overall stable.”

As for militarisation in the South China Sea, Wang said that people always focused on China’s moves but turned a blind eye to the advanced military equipments deployed by some other country in the South China Sea, including missile destroyers and strategic bombers.

During the past decades, some countries illegally occupied China’s islands and militarised them heavily with all kinds of artillery, he said.

“The demilitarization needs efforts of all parties, not only China, but also the US and Asean countries,” Wang said.

China would like to have dialogue with the US on the South China Sea to avoid misjudgement, he said.

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