World Bulletin / News Desk
China warned Washington Tuesday that it would not back down over its claims in the disputed South China Sea, following vows by the Trump administration to defend US and international interests there.
China's artificial islands in the sea, some with the potential for military use, are considered a potential flashpoint and tough comments from White House spokesman Sean Spicer and Trump's nominee for secretary of state have raised the temperature.
"China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing, adding that the country is "firm in safeguarding our rights and interests".
"The United States is not a party to the South China Sea issue."
"If those islands are, in fact, in international waters and not part of China proper, yeah, we'll make sure we defend international interests from being taken over by one country," he said.
Trump's nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said last week China's access to the islands might be blocked -- raising the prospect of a military confrontation.
China lays claim to a vast swathe of the South China Sea within a so-called "nine dash line," including waters claimed by several of its neighbours.
Under President Barack Obama's administration, Washington insisted it was neutral on the question of sovereignty over the islets, reefs and shoals.
But, while calling for the dispute to be resolved under international law, the US supported freedom of navigation by sending naval patrols through Chinese-claimed waters.
Hua said China "firmly upholds freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law" and urged the US to "fully respect the efforts of regional countries to safeguard peace and stability".Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ocak 2017, 13:54