BEIJING: Defending its action in directing a US surveillance plane out of a disputed area in the South China Sea, China today invoked the UN’s maritime law while asserting that freedom of navigation does not allow foreign military vessels to violate sovereignty of coastal states.
“Recently some people are hyping up freedom of navigation in the South China Sea (SCS),” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a briefing here, responding to questions on its defence building in the disputed region.
“In the UNCLOS you will find that the freedom of navigation and overflight definitely does not mean foreign military vessels can defy and impair the sovereignty and legitimate rights and safety of navigation of overflight of other countries,” she said.
“The convention states explicitly that the passing foreign ships shall not be prejudicial to the peace and security of the coastal states,” she said.
China quoting the UN Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS) is significant as it had declined to join the lawsuit filed by the Philippines for arbitration under UNCLOS questioning Beijing’s right over the area.