The Philippines’ argument that China’s construction on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea would cause damage to the Philippines is utterly unjustifiable, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said yesterday while addressing the media.
The Phillippines Foreign Affairs Ministry accused China of having destroyed 300 hectares of coral reef systems in the South China Sea/ West Philippine Sea, leading to economic losses to coastal states valued at USD 100 million annually.
“China exercises indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters. China carries out construction on its own islands and reefs, and attaches greater importance to protecting the ecological environment there than anyone else. One thing worth pointing out is that China’s construction projects have gone through years of scientific assessments and rigorous tests, and are subject to strict standards and requirements of environmental protection. Such projects will not damage the ecological environment of the South China Sea,” Lei said.
Responding to concerns raised at the 26th ASEAN Summit regarding the land reclamation, Lei said that the Chinese side is gravely concerned about the statement of the 26th ASEAN Summit on the South China Sea issue.
“Bearing in mind the overall picture of regional peace and stability, China stays committed to resolving the relevant disputes with countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting the historical facts and the international law, and devotes itself to jointly safeguarding peace and stability of the South China Sea with ASEAN countries. China has exercised great restraint on the relevant issue,” he added.
Lei pointed out that there has never been any problem concerning the freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea that all countries are entitled to under the international law, nor will there be any in the future.
He added that China’s construction on the islands and reefs of Nansha is completely within China’s sovereignty, and does not target or affect anyone.
“Relevant construction is lawful, justified and reasonable and thus beyond reproach. The Chinese side opposes a few countries’ taking hostage the entire ASEAN and China-ASEAN relations for their own selfish gains, and undermining the friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN. We urge countries concerned to meet China halfway, and safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea and the general interests of China-ASEAN relationship,” he added.