Vessels sailing in the South China Sea have not been hampered by China's construction in the South China Sea, shipping companies and an industry expert said in Hong Kong.
Tensions have risen recently after the United States accused China of impeding the freedom of navigation and deployed warships and aircraft to patrol the South China Sea in response to China's infrastructure construction on its islands and reefs.
Asked about whether the construction affected navigation freedom in the South China Sea, Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), one of the world's largest container shipping companies, said, "our company hasn't noticed any abnormity regarding business operations in this region."
Ship agency S5 Asia, which was rebranded from Jardine Shipping Services last year, also said no disruption was detected.
A reply from the company's operation department in Hong Kong said no such impact had been noticed over the company's business operations in the region.
In the meantime, prof. Lu Chin-Shan from the Shipping Research Center of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said he had not heard of any market player mentioning disturbances of navigation freedom in the South China Sea.
Prof. Lu said acts such as wars and military exercises did have impact on navigation, as shipping companies would be forced to choose longer routes or pay higher insurance fees.
However, those scenarios are not seen in the South China Sea region, where navigation freedom is not being affected.
China has refuted such unfounded accusations and expressed the will to help safeguard navigation freedom in the South China Sea.
"China hopes to secure freedom of navigation," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Tuesday at a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress.
Thanks to joint efforts made by China and other countries in the region, the South China Sea remains among the world's safest and freest sail lanes, Wang said.
From technical perspectives, the infrastructure construction built could help facilitate the navigation of ships in the region.
According to Lu, commercial and fishing vessels would be able to benefit from improved infrastructure if more weather forecast equipment could be installed on the South China Sea.