MANILA, Philippines — Insisting that its island-building activities in the South China Sea are for civilian purposes, Beijing accused Washington of “ignoring” its positive efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.
Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesperson Senior Col. Wu Qian maintained that China’s deployment of facilities are “reasonable and legitimate.”
“For a period of time, the US side has been hyping up the South China Sea issue, attempting to blame China for harming freedom of navigation in the region,” Wu said in a press briefing Thursday.
Wu pointed out that it was also reasonable and legitimate for China to warn US aircraft flying over its facilities on the disputed features as they saw it as a provocation.
The Chinese Defense spokesman also claimed that freedom of navigation in the region has “never been a problem.”
“I would like to remind the US side not to purposefully turn a blind eye to China’s efforts,” Wu said.
Wu cited Beijing’s deployment of a search and rescue ship in the Spratly Islands as an example of his claim that Washington has been ignoring the former’s efforts in maintaining peace.
“However, I did not find any media coverage from the US media. As far as I know, this ship has conducted three successful rescue operations, rescuing one fishing boat and four fishermen,” he said.
Earlier this month, London-based broadcast network BBC reported that Chinese military has been warning off US, as well as Philippine military aircraft, patrolling near the artificial islands in the South China Sea.
BBC went a board a US military plane where they picked up a warning from the Chinese military, urging them to leave the airspace above the Spratly Islands.
“China has sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters. Leave immediately and keep far off to avoid misunderstanding,” a voice can be heard saying on the video.
Compared to its warning against the US aircraft, the Chinese military used a vociferous tone against the Philippine plane also flying over the area.
“Philippine military aircraft, I’m warning you again. Leave immediately or you will bear responsibility for all the consequences!” the Chinese told the Philippine plane.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that he has raised the BBC report in his recent meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing.