China 'guarantees' navigation in South China Sea as Philippines berates 'baseless claim'

China has announced a 'guaranteed' freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, most of which it claims as its exclusive, internal territorial waters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told the East Asian Summit hosted by ASEAN in Bali, Indonesia, that tensions between his country and neighbouring countries over claims to the South China Sea would not affect vital shipping trade.

"What I told the summit is that freedom of navigation in this region is guaranteed," Mr Yang said. "If there is no guarantee, how do we explain Asia's economy is fast developing in the world's economy? How do we explain Asia contributed to half of the world's economy recovery?"

However, at the same venue, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario outlined seven reports on "aggressive intrusions" by China in the "West Philippine Sea".

The secretary said that when the Philippines protested these intrusions, China's "response was a denial that no such intrusions occurred because of China's 9-dash line claim over the entire South China Sea."

He said the Philippines contends that the "9-dash claim" of China has no validity under international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.

"If Philippine sovereign rights can be denigrated by this baseless claim, many countries should begin to contemplate the potential threat to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea," he said.

UPDATE: See "Remarks by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi At the ARF Foreign Ministers' Meeting" published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China

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