Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the Fifth Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, answers reporters' questions at a news conference for the session in Beijing on Thursday. More than 3,000 journalists, including 1,250 from overseas, are covering the annual political meetings this year. (Photo/Xinhua)
Tensions in region eased since relations with Philippines were repaired last year
The concern about "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea is "much ado about nothing", a spokesman for the annual session of the top political advisory body said at a news conference in Beijing on Thursday.[Special coverage]
"There is an old Chinese saying that 'There's no trouble in the world, except for what the unenlightened agitate'," said Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the Fifth Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, when asked about how China can ensure navigational freedom in the South China Sea.
"As a major trading nation and the biggest country along the South China Sea, China attaches more importance than any other country to navigational freedom and security in the South China Sea," Wang said.
He said the accusation of "China threatening navigational freedom", which has been raised by some nations, is a "fake proposition", as there have never been problems in that regard since China took back its islands in the South China Sea after World War II.
Stressing that the South China Sea islands are an integral part of China's territory, Wang said that it is "perfectly normal" for China to build facilities, including those necessary for defensive purposes, on its own territory.
The civilian facilities China has built on the South China Sea islands, such as lighthouses, have played a positive role in guaranteeing navigation safety and humanitarian rescue, Wang added.
On Feb. 12, the U.S. Navy Times reported that the United States navy was planning to dispatch warships to the South China Sea for "freedom of navigation" operations.
Last month, the USS Carl Vinson Nimitz-class carrier strike group began patrolling the South China Sea.
Luo Yongkun, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that since relations between Beijing and Manila were repaired last year after the new Philippine administration came to power, tensions in the South China Sea have been eased.
"The waters are at peace now, but Washington sent its carrier here in the name of protecting navigational freedom. It is obvious that we are not the one destabilizing the region."