South China Sea actions 'legal':UN representative

Updated: 2015-06-13 04:59

By Amy He at the United Nations(China Daily USA)

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China's activity on islands and reefs in the South China Sea "fall entirely within the scope of China's sovereignty" and won't damage the marine environment and ecosystem of the area, Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Friday.

"It's legal, justified, and reasonable. The primary purpose of these activities is to improve the working and living conditions of personnel stationed there, to better fulfill our international obligations concerning maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention, and mitigation, and to enable China to provide better services to vessels from China, her neighbors, and other countries sailing in the South China Sea," he said.

Wang was responding to remarks made by Lourdes Yparraguirre, the Phillippine's permanent representative to the UN, on Friday during a meeting of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In commenting on the South China Sea, Yparraguirre said that China should desist from its actions "in areas where it has no sovereign rights or jurisdiction under the convention" and "to refrain from altering the status quo and to exercise self restraint."

The Philippines have claimed eight islands in the South China Sea. On Friday, the Philippine government broadcast the first of a three-part television program entitled Freedom that opposes China's presence in the South China Sea, saying that it has had an economic impact on Filipinos, according to the Associated Press. The broadcast of the first episode on the state-run TV network on Friday coincided with the Philippines' independence day.

China has said that its sovereignty and rights in the area have a historical foundation, and that its construction in the South China Sea fulfills its obligations as a major nation. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in May that construction hasn't caused problems to air or sea navigation and urged the United States — which has accused China of acting "out of step" with international rules — to not take sides on the issue.

Wang said that China's construction activities follow high standards of environmental protection and that they will not undermine other countries' "lawful right of navigation" in the South China Sea. The ambassador said that the meeting on Friday was not the right venue to discuss the issue, and that the purpose of the Philippines is to "deceive the international community and pressure China into making compromises and concessions on issues concerning its sovereignty and territorial integrity."

China's will to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Wang said, "is firm as a rock. No matter what and how much they say at this meeting — or any other UN venues — they will never achieve their purpose." He said China urges the Philippines to resolve the dispute through bilateral negotiations as soon as possible.

At the meeting, Wang also talked more broadly about the state of the world's oceans, saying countries should cooperate in responding to the challenges faced by the seas.

"The Chinese government takes sustainable maritime development very seriously. In over 30 years of reform and opening up, it has actively advocated for the concepts of integrated maritime management and building of a marine conservation culture, promoting the strategy of maritime development through science and technology, and advanced maritime economic development," Wang said.

"China looks forward to furthering its cooperation with other countries, and drawing on their valuable experience so as to lay more contributions to the sustainable development of oceans and seas," he added.