China insists 'inherent right' to military activities in South China Sea

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
China insists 'inherent right' to military activities in South China Sea
In this image taken from a May 19, 2018, video footage run by China's CCTV via AP Video, a Chinese H-6K bomber aircraft is seen flying along a runway in the South China Sea. The Chinese air force has landed long-range bombers for the first time at an airport in the South China Sea, a state newspaper said Saturday, in a move likely to further fuel concerns about Beijing's expansive claims over the disputed region.
CCTV via AP Video

MANILA, Philippines — Responding to the Pentagon's withdrawal of its invitation to participate in a multinational naval exercise, China justified its militarization of the disputed South China Sea.

The US disinvited China to the 2018 Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii as an "initial response" to Beijing's increasing militarization in the region.

Downplaying its deployment of a bomber aircraft on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, the Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted that Beijing has "indisputable sovereignty" over the islands and reefs in the disputed waterway.

"It is our inherent right as a sovereign state to carry out normal construction activities on our own territory and conduct normal military training," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

Beijing appears to continuously deny that it is militarizing the South China Sea despite having installed missile systems and electronic jammers on its "big three" islands in the South China Sea.

The Pentagon pointed out that it has "strong evidence" that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile system, and electronic jammers to the contested features.

Washington also raised concern over China's landing of an H-6K bomber on Woody Island, which raises tension in the region.

"It is a necessary measure to safeguard our sovereign security and maintain regional peace and stability, bearing not the slightest resemblance to the so-called 'militarization' that the US side has been irresponsibly accusing us of. The US has no right and no ground to accuse China on this issue," Lu said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that the US was the first to propose military-to-military exchange between Washington and Beijing. Lu said that Beijing would not bow down to the US' supposed manipulation.

"If it thinks that it can blackmail China into giving up its inherent rights by manipulating one or two exchange programs, it is indulging in unrealistic thinking to no avail," Lu said.

"No matter it is invitation or disinvitation, or whether there is this military drill or not, nothing will change China's resolve to play a positive role in upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea region or sway its firm determination to safeguard its security and sovereign rights and interests," he added.

In a statement released upon disinviting the Chinese Navy in the multilateral military exercise, the Pentagon called out Chinese President Xi Jinping for reneging on his promise not to militarize the South China Sea.

"We believe these recent deployments and the continued militarization of these features is a violation of the promise that President Xi made to the United States and the World not to militarize the Spratly Islands," the Pentagon said.






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