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Tuesday, February 23, 2016, 20:31

Navigation: US urged to stop sowing dissension

By Agencies

Navigation: US urged to stop sowing dissension
A formation of the Nanhai Fleet of China's Navy finished a three-day patrol of the Nansha islands in the South China Sea, Dec 19, 2015. (Photo/Xinhua)

BEIJING - China on Tuesday refuted once again the United States' claim that China has threatened the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, urging it to stop sowing dissension among South China Sea littoral countries.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks at a daily press briefing in response to a senior US naval officer's recent call for more naval operations in the region.

"I must point out that the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea entitled under international law does not mean US naval vessels or airplanes' freedom to flex their muscle," Hua said.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, said on Monday that Australia and other countries should follow the US lead and conduct "freedom-of-navigation" naval operations within 12 nautical miles of contested islands in the South China Sea, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

As the world's largest trade in goods nation and the largest South China Sea littoral state, China "cares more about navigation safety and freedom in the South China Sea than any other country," said Hua.

In fact, there has never been any problem with navigational freedom in the South China Sea, said Hua, adding it was unfair to "put such a label on China."

She urged the United States to stop sowing dissension and deliberately stirring up tension, and stop deeds and actions that undermine peace and stability in the region.

When asked to comment on some US media saying that China is creating a "great wall of sand" in the South China Sea, Hua said China's sovereignty and claims in the South China Sea are grounded in history and upheld by successive Chinese governments.

The position has adequate historical and legal basis, Hua said.

"We have no intention to expand (the sovereignty), nor allow it to shrink," she said.

"If the word 'great wall' must be used, we suggest those media pay more attention to Chinese people's 'great wall of will' to firmly safeguard territorial sovereignty and legal rights," Hua said.

Hua also reasserted Beijing's right to develop its South China Sea island outposts following a US think tank's report that China has built new radar facilities in the Nansha Islands.

Citing commercial satellite imagery, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, said the radars on the island reefs could be key to helping China establish effective control over the strategically vital area's sea and airspace.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had no specific information about the CSIS report, but said China had undisputed sovereignty over the area.

"It's within China's sovereignty to carry out constructions on its own territories," Hua told reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference. "By deploying some necessary defensive facilities on the relevant islands and reefs it defends in the South China Sea, China is exercising the right of self-preservation that every country enjoys according to international law, which is beyond reproach."

Hua added that international media were paying too little attention to China's construction of lighthouses, weather stations, fishermen's shelters and other civilian infrastructure that will benefit of the international community.

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