China respects all countries' freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, but firmly opposes any country using this as a pretext to undermine China's sovereignty and security interests, Geng Shuang, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said at a plenary meeting of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly, on Tuesday, replying to several other countries' representatives' incorrect remarks on the South China Sea issues.
Geng said that China's territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea have long been formed in the course of a long history, which is in line with international law.
The so-called South China Sea arbitration was unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, and the arbitral tribunal exceeded its jurisdiction and issued an unjust ruling. China doesn't accept or participate in the arbitration, nor does it accept or recognize the so-called award, as well as any claims and actions based on it, Geng said. Negotiation and consultation are the realistic and effective ways to deal with the South China Sea issue, Geng said.
Ren'ai Jiao, also known as Ren'ai Reef, has always been an integral part of China's Nansha Qundao. In 1999, a Philippine warship illegally "grounded" on Ren'ai Jiao, and since then, the Philippines has repeatedly promised to remove the "grounded" warship. However, after 24 years, the Philippines hasn't fulfilled its promise. Recently, the Philippines attempted to transport construction materials to the grounded warship in order to achieve permanent occupation of Ren'ai Jiao, said Geng.
China firmly opposes the Philippines' infringement and provocative actions, and will take necessary measures to safeguard its territorial sovereignty. At the same time, China is committed to resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation, and is willing to negotiate with the Philippines on the management and control of the situation at Ren'ai Jiao, Geng noted.
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have actively promoted the negotiation of a "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" and have made continuous progress in various stages during recent years, according to Geng.
China will work with ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, to strengthen dialogue and eliminate interference, jointly upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea, Geng said.