MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese ambassador in Manila says his country respects freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea but will not allow any foreign government to invoke that right so its warships and planes can intrude in Beijing's territory.
Ambassador Zhao Jianhua says Chinese forces warned a U.S. Navy P-8A not to intrude when the warplane approached a Chinese-occupied area in the disputed Spratlys in May.
Washington, however, does not recognize any territorial claim by any country in the South China Sea, a policy that collides with the position of China, which claims ownership of virtually the entire sea.
Zhao told reporters late Tuesday: "Freedom of navigation does not mean to allow other countries to intrude into the airspace or the sea which is sovereign. No country will allow that."