Q: US officials said that China has seemingly cordoned off the area near Huangyan Dao. It is speculated that China will conduct reclamation and beef up vigilance on Huangyan Dao. Since April 19, military aircraft such as A-10 fighter jets sent by the US air force have been patrolling international airspace near Huangyan Dao. What is China's comment? Will China carry out reclamation on Huangyan Dao?
A: Some media have been speculating that China may take some move on Huangyan Dao. Doesn't that reveal the anxiety of some people?
I want to reaffirm that Huangyan Dao is an inherent part of China. It is within China's sovereignty as for what will China do or not do on Huangyan Dao. China has the confidence and capability to preserve its sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests.
Q: Several US lawmakers said the other day that "freedom of navigation operations" by the US in relevant waters of the South China Sea should become routine. Sending US ships into the area every three month is simply insufficient to send a strong message to China. What is China's response?
A: We have seen the relevant report. What we have also noted is one opinion in the US that the US military is exaggerating deliberately the China threat in the South China Sea. According to an article on The National Interest magazine, it is a questionable proposition to say that China's sovereign claim in the South China Sea impacts international trade in the region. China's activities in the South China Sea did not put US security at stake. The magazine also said that Washington sent the USS John C. Stenniscarrier strike group (CSG) to the South China Sea as a show of force. However, the acquisition cost of a CSG is on the order of US$13 billion, and it costs US$6.5 million a day to simply operate a CSG. With the US national debt exceeding US$19 trillion, have those in the US won support from taxpayers when they go to all lengths to push for the so-called "freedom of navigation operations" in the South China Sea?
I would like to stress once again that the Chinese side always respects and supports genuine freedom of navigation that conforms to international law, but stands firmly against any attempt to undermine China's sovereignty and security interests under the pretext of navigation freedom.