Chinese admiral contests freedom of navigation in South China Sea
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A senior Chinese admiral has rejected freedom of navigation for military ships, despite views held by the United States and most other nations that such access is codified by international law.
The comments by Adm. Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of China’s joint staff, come at a time when the U.S. Navy is particularly busy operating in the South China Sea, amid tensions over sea and territorial rights between China and many of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region.
“When has freedom of navigation in the South China Sea ever been affected? It has not, whether in the past or now, and in the future there won’t be a problem as long as nobody plays tricks,” Sun said at a closed forum in Beijing on Saturday, according to a transcript obtained by Reuters.
“But China consistently opposes so-called military freedom of navigation, which brings with it a military threat and which challenges and disrespects the international law of the sea,” Sun said.