BEIJING, November 3. /TASS/. China will respond toughly to deliberate provocations by any country in the South China Sea, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Tuesday. She thus commented on the statement of the Pentagon spokesman that the US Navy would be patrolling the area in the South China Sea near the disputed islands in spite of protests from Beijing.
"We will firmly respond to any deliberate provocation of any country. We also intend to keep a close eye on what is happening in the relevant waters and airspace," the diplomat said.
"We firmly oppose other countries' attempts to damage China’s sovereignty and security interests in the freedom of navigation and air traffic. I want to emphasize that China stands firm in the defense of its territorial sovereignty and security as well as its full-fledged and legitimate interests at sea," Hua Chunying said.
"We urge all parties concerned to stop the dangerous and provocative actions that threaten China’s sovereignty and security interests," the spokesperson said.
Beijing has for decades been involved in a dispute with many countries in the region over the territorial jurisdiction of a number of islands in the South China Sea, where significant reserves of hydrocarbons have been found. This refers, above all, to the Xisha archipelago (the Paracel Islands), the Nansha Islands (the Spratly Islands) and Huangyan Island. Other countries involved in the dispute are Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. As of the end of 2013, China has been engaged in large-scale hydro-engineering and construction work on the expansion and development of the territories under its control.