China values freedom and safety of navigation in
the South China Sea more than any other country, a spokesman for the top
political advisory body said yesterday.
Wang Guoqing, spokesman for the fifth session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, made the comment at a press conference, citing the fact that China was a major trading nation as well as the largest littoral country of the South China Sea.
Certain countries outside the region alleged China threatens freedom of navigation, an entirely “pseudo proposition,” he said.
Since China had recovered the South China Sea islands at the end of World War II, there had never been a problem with navigational freedom in the region.
The South China Sea islands are an integral part of China’s territory, Wang said, adding that it was “perfectly normal” for China to build facilities, including those for necessary defense purposes, on its own territory. International law entitled sovereign states to do so.
China, Wang reiterated, resolutely defended the freedom of navigation that every country enjoys in the South China Sea according to international law.
“We have set up cooperation mechanisms with many other countries to ensure safe navigation,” he said. The civilian facilities China has built on the South China Sea islands, such as lighthouses, had played a positive role in guaranteeing navigation safety and humanitarian rescue, Wang added.
He also said the Belt and Road Initiative was advancing steadily, bringing investment and jobs to participating countries.
More than 100 countries and international organizations had joined the initiative and over 40 of them had cooperation agreements with China, he said.
Chinese businesses had helped to build 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in 20 countries along the Belt and Road, with total investment exceeding US$18 billion, helping to generate over US$1 billion in tax revenue and more than 160,000 jobs.
Wang said the CPPCC National Committee would do more work in 2017 to promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges with countries along the Belt and Road. The initiative was proposed by China in 2013 and aims to become a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.
In the spirit of regional connectivity, China is working in aviation, power, rail, road and telecommunications projects with participating countries.
The CPPCC will open its annual session at 3pm today in Beijing, he said.
More than 2,000 members from different sectors across the country will discuss major political, economic and social issues concerning the country’s development during this year’s session, which is scheduled to conclude on March 13.