World / Asia-Pacific

Beijing: US 'freedom of navigation' creates tension

By Zhang Yunbi ( Updated: 2016-02-01 16:50

Washington is flexing its military muscle and creating tension in the name of "freedom of navigation", Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

"China urges the US to stop behavior that harms others, without benefiting itself, as soon as possible," Lu said in a regular press conference in Beijing on Monday.

The comments were made in response to a Saturday statement made by Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis, who claimed that a US warship "conducted a freedom of navigation operation" in the South China Sea early on Saturday.

The USS Curtis Wilbur guided missile destroyer intruded on Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands, and the People's liberation Army reacted immediately, issued warnings and drove it away.

Davis said the US destroyer was conducting an "innocent passage" through the waters there, and the operation was conducted "to challenge excessive maritime claims of parties", AFP reported later on Saturday.

Lu said the so-called Freedom of Navigation program, conducted by the US, "has not abided by the publicly recognized international law, has ignored the sovereignty, security and maritime rights and interests of a large number of coastal countries, and has seriously damaged regional peace and stability".

The nature behind such actions is seeking maritime hegemony in the name of "freedom of navigation", and this has drawn firm opposition by many countries in the world, especially a wide range of developing countries, Lu said.

"Such US action is dangerous and irresponsible," Lu added.

China has always respected and supported various countries to enjoy freedom of navigation in the South China Sea through abiding by international law, Lu said.

However, China resolutely opposes any attempt by anyone to damage China's sovereignty, security and maritime rights and interests with such excuses as "freedom of navigation", Lu added.

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