Fishing boats in the South China Sea, on July 10, 2012. [Photo/VCG]
BEIJING - China respects freedom of navigation and flights over the South China Sea but resolutely opposes taking it as a pretext to conduct provocative moves in this area, a spokesperson for the Chinese military said Thursday.
"China always respects the freedom of navigation and flights over the South China Sea in accordance with international law, but that should not be conducted in a wayward or illegal manner," Ren Guoqiang, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, said at a press conference.
"China resolutely opposes any country taking such freedom as a pretext to conduct illegal and provocative moves in the South China Sea, undermining sovereignty and security of littoral countries, and doing harm to regional peace and stability," Ren said.
While responding to a question regarding statements by military and governmental officials of the United States on the so-called "freedom of navigation" issue, Ren said China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters.
Ren said that with the efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the current situation in the area is generally improving. However, the acts by the United States to send vessels and planes to relevant areas have defied international law and international rules, jeopardizing the peace and stability in the region.
"We demand that the US side earnestly respect the sovereignty and security of China as well as the strong and common will of countries in the region to preserve peace and stability in the area, and stop making trouble in the South China Sea," Ren said.
The spokesperson also pledged resolute measures by the Chinese military to safeguard national sovereignty and security and maintain regional peace and stability.