China on Tuesday criticized the Philippines' attempt to expand the Huangyan Island dispute over the entire South China Sea, saying China's exercise of sovereignty has never impeded freedom of navigation.
The Huangyan Island [file photo]
Huangyan Island has been an integral part of China's territory since ancient times, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a press conference. The Philippines' groundless claim over the island's sovereignty is "the fundamental cause" of the complicated situation, he said.
He said "expanding the Huangyan Island dispute to involve the entire South China Sea makes no sense."
His remarks were made in response to Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who on Monday accused China of "claiming virtually the entire South China Sea," China Daily reported.
Also on Monday, the foreign secretary said "the message is" that China "can set the rules for anybody."
"I think the current standoff is a manifestation of a larger threat to many nations," del Rosario told ABS-CBN TV network in an interview.
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez also said that China is posing "a potential threat to freedom of navigation as well as unimpeded commerce in the area."
Beijing on Tuesday responded that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea "has never been an issue", and China's long-term exercise and protection of sovereignty over the island "has never and will not influence" freedom of navigation in the waters.