BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhua) -- China said on Tuesday that its exercise of sovereignty over the Huangyan Island has never impeded freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin made the remarks at a routine press briefing when asked to comment on Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario's remarks on the area.
Del Rosario said Monday that, with China claiming almost everything in the South China Sea, the message is they "can set the rules for anybody."
He also warned that China's territorial claims in the waterway may threaten freedom of navigation in the region.
"There have been no problems concerning freedom of navigation in the South China Sea," said Liu in response. "China has long been exercising sovereignty over the Huangyan Island and that has never and will be impossible to impact freedom of navigation in the region."
To the contrary, it is the Philippines that sent warships to the Huangyan Island and forcibly boarded Chinese fishing ships for inspection, which incurred tension and aroused people's concern over the safety of the region, he said.
Liu reaffirmed that China's sovereignty over the Huangyan Island has full historical and legal basis, and its claim is in line with international law.
The Philippines never disputed China's sovereignty over the island until 1997, having clearly stated that the island was outside of the Philippines' territory, according to the spokesman.
It is a violation of international law for the Philippines to misinterpret the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea and use the term of the "200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone" to undermine China's territory sovereignty, said Liu.
The international principles were enacted by all participant countries, and should be observed by all parties, no matter big or small, he urged, adding that the public can tell right from wrong.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Raul Hernandez said on Monday that the Philippines would formally raise the issues surrounding the Huangyan Island during the "2+2" talks between Del Rosario and Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and their U.S. counterparts, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta next week.
"In general, most countries will not take a stand on territory disputes between other countries," Liu said in response.
Liu said the Philippines' groundless territory claim over the Huangyan Island is the fundamental cause of the complicated situation at present.
He said it will do no good for the Philippines to escalate tension over the Huangyan Island to the entire South China Sea.
"Chinese government will continue to firmly safeguard its territory sovereignty," Liu vowed.
China demands the Philippine side seriously handle its concern, respect its territory sovereignty, and refrain from taking any actions that will escalate and complicate the issue, he said.
He also said China hopes the waters around the Huangyan Island will regain peace and stability, and that Chinese fishermen's normal activities will go on undisturbed.