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China says its exercise of sovereignty over Huangyan Island has never impeded freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin made the remarks at a routine press briefing on Tuesday.
A day before, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said China’s message is it "can set the rules for anybody by claiming almost everything in the South China Sea."
He also warned that China’s territorial claims in the waterway may threaten freedom of navigation in the region. In response, Liu said there have been no problems concerning freedom of navigation in the area. He added it will do no good for the Philippines to escalate tension over the Huangyan Island to the entire South China Sea. He pointed out that China’s claim of of sovereignty over the Huangyan Island is in line with international law.
Liu said, "International laws are set by all the countries, together. Every country, whether big or small, should abide by them. There has never been any problems with the freedom to sail on the South China Sea. China has long been protecting its sovereignty over Huangyan Island, and has never affected the freedom to sail on the South China Sea. However, the Philippines deployed a naval ship to Huangyan Island and forced an inspection of a Chinese fishing ship. That move has triggered tension and people’s concern about the safety of the area. Huangyan Island is an integral part of Chinese territory. The Philippines’’ groundless claims of sovereignty over the island is the primary cause of this complicated situation. It’s unreasonable and unhelpful to expand the issue to the whole South China Sea."