says no need to 'gesticulate' over South China Sea plans
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[March 31, 2016]
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Defence
Ministry denounced as gesticulation on Thursday speculation it would
declare an air defense zone over the disputed South China Sea, after the
United States said it had told China it would not recognize one.
U.S. officials have expressed concern that an international court
ruling expected in coming weeks on a case brought by the Philippines
against China over its South China Sea claims could prompt China to
declare an air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, as it did over
the East China Sea in 2013.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said on Wednesday the
U.S. would view such a move as "destabilizing" and would not
recognize such an exclusion zone in the South China Sea, just as it
did not recognize the one China established over the East China Sea.
Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun, asked about Work's remarks, said any
sovereign state had the right to set up an ADIZ.
"On this, there is no need for other countries to gesticulate," Yang
told a monthly news briefing.
"Whether or not to or when to set up an air defense identification
zone depends on whether there is an aerial threat or the level of
aerial threat. It needs many considerations," he added, without
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5
trillion in global trade passes every year.
China drew condemnation from Japan and the United States when it
imposed its ADIZ, in which aircraft are supposed to identify
themselves to Chinese authorities, above the East China Sea.
The ministry's comments come as President Xi Jinping arrived in
Washington for a nuclear security summit, where he will meet U.S.
President Barack Obama.
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Tensions between China and its neighbors Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei,
the Philippines and Taiwan over sovereignty in the South China Sea
have risen after Beijing embarked on significant land reclamations
on disputed islands and reefs in the area.
The United States has accused China of raising tension by its
apparent deployment of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island,
a move China has neither confirmed nor denied.
China, for its part, has accused the United States of militaristic
the South China Sea through its freedom of navigation patrols in the
region and the expansion of military alliances with countries such
as the Philippines.
Yang said this month's agreement between the United States and the
Philippines allowing for a U.S. military presence at five Philippine
bases represented "outdated Cold War thinking" which the United
States should ditch.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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