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Thursday, 28 April 2016

China dismisses US report on freedom of navigation

China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged the United States to show respect for other countries' sovereignty and security, in response to the Pentagon's newly-released annual freedom of navigation report.

The Freedom of Navigation Report for the Fiscal Year 2015 was released by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on Monday. According to the report, the US military conducted "freedom of navigation" operations against 13 countries and regions last year, including several to challenge China's claims in the South and East China seas.

"We regard the so-called 'freedom of navigation' operations as a violent means to which the US resorts to promote its unilateral claims,” said Hua Chunying, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, at a regular press briefing.

“We hope the US can respect the sovereignty and security of other countries and contribute more to safeguard the international maritime order and regional peace and stability,” she added.

This photo taken on Dec. 11, 2015 shows uniquely beautiful winter scenery of the Zhaoshu Island in the South China Sea. (Xinhua/Zhao Yingquan)

Meanwhile, the US DoD said on its website that these operations aimed to preserve the rights, freedoms, and lawful use of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law.

In 1979, the US established the Freedom of Navigation program before the signing of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), said Hua, adding that its aim was to safeguard the US military's maximum freedom and maneuverability to enter the oceans of the world and challenge the new maritime order as a non-signatory of the 1982 UNCLOS.

“These moves by the United States are an attempt to dominate maritime order and reflect its logic of hegemony and exceptionalism in its treatment of international law,” said Hua.

Media reports said six US Air Force planes performed a flight mission in "international airspace" in the vicinity of Huangyan Island in the South China Sea on April 19.

China's Ministry of National Defense on Monday said in a statement that the US is pushing for a militarization of the South China Sea in the name of freedom of navigation and overflight.

China is concerned about and opposed to actions that threaten the sovereignty and security of countries around the South China Sea and undermine regional peace and stability, according to the statement.

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