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Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 20:00

Freedom of navigation not a problem: China

By Xinhua

Freedom of navigation not a problem: China
Secretary of State John Kerry, right, shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, at the State Department in Washington, Feb 23, 2016.(AP Photo / Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON - Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday held a meeting with his US counterpart John Kerry in Washington on a wide range of topics, including tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea issue.

It was the third meeting in a month between the top diplomats, Wang told a press conference at the State Department, adding that it shows that both China and the United States attach great importance to the bilateral relationship.

"As foreign ministers, it is our task to clear the way ahead and to remove obstacles to the smooth development of our bilateral relations," Wang said, emphasizing that Beijing and Washington have "far more common interests than areas of disagreement."

Freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has not been a problem and demilitarization in the region needs efforts of all parties concerned, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here on Tuesday.

"The islands in the South China Sea have been China's territory since ancient times, and China has the right to safeguard its territorial sovereignty," Wang said at a joint press conference with his US counterpart John Kerry after a hours-long bilateral talk.

"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 honoring its promise not to take sides on the maritime disputes, the US has since last October sent warships and military jets to deliberately violate China's territorial waters in the South China Sea.

At the press conference, Kerry said that the United States 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 stressed. "The situation in the South China Sea is overall stable."

The South China Sea issue is not and should not become an issue between China and United States, Wang said, stressing that it is important to prevent any miscalculation between Washington and Beijing.

The Chinese foreign minister noted that both China and the United States share common interests regarding the South China Sea, including maintaining peace and stability.

As for militarization 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 missel destroyers and strategic bombers.

During the past decades, some countries illegally occupied China's islands and militarized them heavily, not only with radars,  but also with all kinds of artillery, he said.

"The demilitarization needs efforts of all parties, not only China, but also the United States and ASEAN countries," Wang said.

China would like to have talks with the United States on the South China Sea to avoid misjudgement, he said.

On Wednesday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the Xisha islands are undisputed Chinese territory, thus, deployment of any kind by China is justified and beyond reproach.

Spokesperson Hua Chunying's comments follow a CNN report that said China had deployed fighter jets to Yongxing, the largest of the group of islands, in the South China Sea.

China has indisputable sovereignty over Xisha islands, Hua said.

"I would advise the media to not selectively exaggerate or ignore issues, as this will not help your audience understand the bigger picture," Hua said.

She asked foreign media to take note of other countries' deployment of radars and advanced weapons on China's islands in the South China Sea, and make objective, fair and calm reports.

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