Won’t stop construction in South China Sea: Beijing snubs Washington’s call

  • PTI, Beijing
  • Updated: Jul 18, 2016 23:59 IST
Pilots place Chinese national flags on the cockpit window of China Southern Airlines' passenger jet after it successfully test landed at an airport on the Meiji reef of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. (AP)

China will not stop construction on the islands in strategic South China Sea, a top Chinese admiral on Monday said, dismissing the pressure from Washington following an international ruling quashed China’s claim of historic rights over the water body.

“We will never stop our construction on the Nansha (Sparatly) Islands halfway. The Nansha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful,” commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy Wu Shengli told his US counterpart admiral John Richardson during their meeting here.

A tribunal appointed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration acting on a petition from the Philippines quashed China’s claim of historic rights on the South Chinas Sea last week and upheld Manila’s claims over the islands.

China, which boycotted the tribunal’s proceedings, rejected the verdict questioning its legality.

Describing the security situation in waters around China as “complicated and sensitive”, Wu said Richardson’s visit will be beneficial for the two countries to strengthen communication, promote trust, resolve doubts and avoid misjudgments.

“We will never sacrifice our sovereignty and interests in the South China Sea,” Wu was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

He stressed that it is China’s “core interest” and concerns the foundation of the ruling Communist Party’s governance, the country’s security and stability and the Chinese nation’s basic interests.

Wu said that China will not recede over territorial sovereignty or fear any military provocation, which the Chinese navy is fully prepared to cope with.

He stressed that “no matter what country or person applies pressure,” China will push forward and complete island construction as planned.

Wu said China will never be caught off guard, and the number of its defence facilities is completely determined by the number of threats it faces.

He vowed that China will never give up its efforts to solve the South China Sea issue peacefully, despite “many negative factors at present,” but warned that “any attempt to force China to give in through flexing military muscles will only have the opposite effect.”

The Chinese admiral hoped that the two countries’ air and maritime forces will fully follow the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea and the Rules of Behaviour for the Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters to avoid strategic misjudgment or exchange of fire, and jointly ensure the peace and stability of the South China Sea.

Wu called on the two sides to promote strategic mutual trust, seek common ground, expand the scope of cooperation and create new momentum for China and the US to develop a new type of major-power relations between the two countries.

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