China says has right to set up air defense zone in South China Sea

By Reuters, AFP   July 13, 2016 | 06:37 pm GMT+7
China says has right to set up air defense zone in South China Sea
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and government spokesman Hu Kaihong hold a news conference to release the white paper on China's position of settling South China Sea issue through negotiation with the Philippines. A still image taken from the Facebook Live video by CCTV

Although it hopes to return to bilateral talks with Manila.

China has the right to set up an air defense zone in the South China Sea (Vietnam's East Sea), but this will depend on the level of threats faced, China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said on Wednesday.

China hopes to return to bilateral talks with Manila over the South China Sea, Liu said, following a ruling by an international arbitration panel which found in favour of the Philippines on a number of disputes in the region.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and government spokesman Hu Kaihong held a news conference today to release a white paper on China's position of settling South China Sea issues through negotiation with the Philippines.

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Construction of a possible radar tower in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. Photo from CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe/Handout via Reuters.

Philippines' claims in South China Sea are "baseless"

The Philippines' claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea are "baseless" and Chinese fishing boats have been harassed and attacked by the Philippines around the Spratly Islands, the Chinese government said in the white paper.

China is firm in upholding its sovereignty over South China Sea islands, it said in the document published after an international tribunal ruled that China had breached the Philippines' sovereign rights by endangering its ships and fishing and oil projects in the energy-rich region.

China was "the first to have discovered, named, explored and exploited" the islands of the South China Sea and their waters, and had "continuously, peacefully and effectively exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction over them", Beijing said.

The Philippines' unilateral initiation of arbitration was an "act of bad faith" it said, adding that China was committed to upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. 

China had "never ceased carrying out activities such as patrolling and law enforcement, resources development and scientific survey" on the islands and in "relevant waters".

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