BEIJING: China on Monday accused the United States of being the biggest incentive for militarization of the South China Sea, and urged it to stop creating tension in the name of “navigational freedom”.
“China always respects and supports navigational freedom in the South China Sea granted by international law to all countries, however, we oppose any infringement of China’s sovereignty, security and maritime interests using the excuse of ‘navigational freedom’,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.
Lu’s remarks at a regular press briefing came after a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed into Chinese waters.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said Saturday that the operation sought to challenge policies restricting navigation rights and freedom, but the United States takes no position on sovereignty claims to naturally-formed land features in the South China Sea.
The so-called “navigation freedom plan” pursued by the United States for many years does not accord with international law. It disregards sovereignty, security and maritime interests of coastal countries and jeopardizes the region’s peace and stability, Lu said.
The United States is actually pursuing maritime hegemony in the name of “freedom”, which was opposed by the international community, especially the developing countries, he said.
He added that the move on the U.S. side was both dangerous and irresponsible. “We advise the United States to stop moves that harm others without benefiting itself as soon as possible,” Lu said.
The missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed 12 nautical miles of China’s Zhongjian Dao,Xisha Islands, on Saturday. According to China’s Defense Ministry, Chinese troops on the islands and Navy vessels and warplanes took action immediately. They identified and verified the U.S. warship, warned it and expelled it.