BEIJING: China on Wednesday rejected misinterpretations by “certain parties” of international law on territorial disputes in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), saying its activities in the region were “legitimate and reasonable.”
According to a dispatch by China’s official news agency Xinhua, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said US President Barack Obama and Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga’s statements “come with ulterior motives.”
“Even if these interpretations are not double standards, they come with ulterior motives,” Hua told a regular news briefing.
The foreign ministry spokeswoman was responding to a statement of US President Barack Obama, who on Monday said China should stop “throwing elbows” in the South China Sea. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said China should abide by international norms.
“What [international]law forbids China to conduct reasonable construction on its own islands and reefs? What law allows close reconnaissance by warships and planes of another country’s islands and reefs? What law allows the infringement of sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests in the name of freedom of navigation?” she asked.
Hua said China’s activities in the South China Sea were legitimate and reasonable and that Beijing always safeguards and plays a constructive role in upholding international laws and rules.
“China will not violate international laws nor harm others to benefit itself. However, it will safeguard its own sovereignty, security and development interests,” she added.
Hua said she hoped relevant countries could maintain an objective and just attitude, and play a constructive role in the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.
Malacañang, meanwhile, shrugged off China’s reaction to President Aquino 3rd’s latest statements on the South China Sea dispute.
Its spokesman Edwin Lacierda also on Thursday said Beijing’s comment dismissing Aquino’s views was nothing new.
“We will not indulge them with returning juvenile rhetoric. We’d rather insist that we discuss this on a high level by resorting and discussing it in the international forum, the international arbitration arena,” Lacierda also told reporters.
During a conference with business leaders in Tokyo, Aquino said China’s efforts to stake its excessive territorial claims remind him of Nazi Germany’s territorial conquests in the lead-up to World War II.
The President, who is on a state visit to Japan, criticized China for its “unlawful territorial claim” and urged the Asian superpower to reexamine its reclamation activities on contested reefs and islands.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Hua turned the tables on Aquino, claiming again that it was the Philippines that illegally occupies the islands and reefs in the contested sea.
Hua also accused the Philippines of harassing Chinese fishermen in 2012 and scored Manila for filing an arbitration case questioning Beijing’s territorial claims.
“It is still the Philippines [that]has collided with countries outside the region and slung mud at China in pursuit of its selfish gains over recent years,” she said.
But Malacanang reiterated that China’s reclamation activities are a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE