US urged to contribute to South China Sea peace

Beijing, Feb 21 (IANS) China on Tuesday said it hoped the US will contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea as an American aircraft carrier strike group began patrolling the region.

“China always respects the freedom of navigation and overflight of all countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, but we oppose those who threaten and harm the sovereignty and security of coastal countries under the pretext of freedom of navigation and overflight,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a daily press briefing.

Geng made the remarks while responding to reports that the US aircraft carrier strike group, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, began routine operations in the South China Sea on February 19, Xinhua news agency reported.

The situation in the South China Sea is becoming more stable under the joint efforts of both China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Geng said.

“We hope relevant countries, especially those outside the region, can respect the efforts made by China and the Asean, maintain the good situation, and do more things that are helpful for peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Geng said.

The patrolling came after China’s Foreign Ministry on February 16 warned the US against challenging Beijing’s sovereignty in the region.