BEIJING, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) — China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy commander Wu Shengli on Thursday called on the United States to stop its “provocations” in the South China Sea.
The Chinese navy, “bearing the bigger picture of bilateral ties in mind,” had exercised “maximum restraint” in the face of U.S. provocations, Admiral Wu of the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy told Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, in a meeting in Beijing.
He was referring to recent U.S. maneuvers near Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea without the permission of the Chinese government. The Chinese navy had been closely monitoring those “provocative acts” and had given warnings on several occasions, Wu said.
The Chinese admiral urged the U.S. to cherish the “good development” of ties between the countries, and “control” its maritime military operations.
Wu commended Admiral Swift’s welcome visit to China as a sign that both sides attach great importance to the development and maintaining of the new type of major-country and military relations between the two sides.
The visit will contribute positively to the deepening of practical cooperation between the two navies and to the alleviation of tensions in the South China Sea as well as safeguarding regional peace and stability, he said.
But recent maneuvers by U.S. aircraft and naval vessels near Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea in the name of “freedom of navigation and aviation” have been a sheer provocation to China’s sovereign rights and posed grave threats to the security of islands and reefs in the South China Sea, Wu said.
“The U.S. conduct does not contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea whatsoever,” he said, “The U.S. cannot impose its own claims on other nations. It cannot sabotage other nations’ sovereignty and security.”
The Chinese admiral went on to defend China’s island building in the South China Sea as “sensible, reasonable and legitimate,” adding that Chinese and U.S. navies should view their differences rationally, and avoid “situations of exigency.”
Admiral Swift, for his part, said the U.S. navy does not want the South China Sea to become an issue disrupting ties between the two sides, expressing hope that the two navies could maintain high-level exchanges and hold more joint drills.
The navies should also improve implementation of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, to preclude misunderstandings and misjudgment and avoid maritime and aerial accidents, Swift said.
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