China dismisses Pentagon report on freedom of navigation

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (Photo source: fmprc.gov.cn)

BEIJING, April 26 (Xinhua) — China on Tuesday urged the United States to show respect for other countries’ sovereignty and security.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the statement at a regular press briefing when asked to comment on an annual freedom of navigation report released by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on April 25.

According to the DoD Freedom of Navigation Report for the Fiscal Year 2015, the U.S. military conducted “freedom of navigation” operations against 13 countries and regions last year, including China, India and Indonesia.

The DoD said on its website that these operations aimed to preserve the rights, freedoms, and lawful use of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law.

U.S. freedom of navigation operations last year challenged China’s claims of jurisdiction over airspace above the Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) and restrictions on foreign aircraft flying through an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, according to the report.

“We have taken note of the U.S. report,” said Hua, adding that the aim of the DoD freedom of navigation program was, in essence, to advance the U.S. unilateral proposition by force and coercion, by brandishing its naval and air power.

In 1979, the United States established the Freedom of Navigation program before the signing of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), said Hua, adding that its aim was to safeguard the U.S. military’s maximum freedom and maneuverability to enter the oceans of the world and challenge the new maritime order as a non-signatory of the 1982 UNCLOS.

Hua said these moves by the United States are an attempt to dominate maritime order and reflect its logic of hegemony and exceptionalism in its treatment of international law, which it uses when convenient and abandons on unfavorable conditions.

She called on the United States to do more that is truly conducive to safeguarding global maritime order as well as regional peace and stability.

Media reports said six U.S. Air Force planes performed a flight mission in “international airspace” in the vicinity of Huangyan Island in the South China Sea on April 19.

China’s Ministry of National Defense on Monday said in a statement that the United States is pushing militarization of the South China Sea in the name of freedom of navigation and overflight.

China is concerned about and opposed to actions that threaten the sovereignty and security of countries around the South China Sea and undermine regional peace and stability, according to the statement.

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