Beijing, Apr 12 : The Chinese Ministry of Foreign affairs has asserted its new sovereignty over the Spratlys Islands in the South China Sea citing historical and legal basis, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang on Thursday said, " We have taken note of those remarks made by the Philippine officials. The Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) are within China’s territory, for which we have sufficient historical and legal basis".
He said " For thousands of years, Chinese fishermen have been fishing in these waters in the South China Sea. Their rights should not be challenged, Daily Inquirer reported.
The Spokesperson also added " the disputes involving the South China Sea should be resolved through negotiations between China and countries directly concerned including the Philippines."
“We are committed to upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea in concert with other regional countries. We hope that the Philippine side will join us in strictly implementing the important consensus reached by the two leaders on properly resolving the South China Sea issue and safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea," he added.
The Philippines and China are locked in a longstanding maritime dispute over the South China Sea with Beijing claiming nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
Recently, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Beijing to back off from a disputed island in the South China Sea, warning of “suicide missions” if China touches it.
Duterte said “I will not plead or beg, but I am just telling you that lay off the Pag-asa because I have soldiers there,”
“If you touch it, that’s another story. Then I will tell my soldiers ‘prepare for suicide missions’.
On April 7, two Russian destroyers and a tanker docked in the Philippines for a "goodwill visit" amid escalating tensions in the disputed South China Sea, CNN reported.
In January 2013, the Philippines filed a case challenging the expansive claims of China in the South China Sea before the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration.
The arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the country’s sovereignty over the WPS in July 2016, which China refused to recognise.
China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have all staked claims to various islands and reefs as well as waterways in the sea, with rich petroleum reserves thought to sit deep beneath the waters. (UNI)