Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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China Again Claims it isn’t Militarizing South China Sea; Again Says it Owns Senkakus


(Photo : Ministry of Defense) The Senkaku Islands.

China took strong exception to recent remarks made by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. will no longer tolerate China's militarization of its illegal man-made islands in the South China Sea.

State-run media slammed Mattis' comments as "irresponsible" while claiming China "respects" international law despite repudiating the decision against it last July 12, 2016 by the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

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This court decided for the Philippines and found that China's "nine-dash line" had no legal basis for its claims to historic rights to resources in the South China Sea. It also ruled that none of the land features met the requirements of an exclusive economic zone for China.

In its latest tirade defending its being a "law-abiding state," China said it has indisputable sovereignty over the Senkaku islands owned by Japan and their adjacent waters.

China said the Senkakus and its adjacent islets have been part of China since ancient times, so it is legal and justified for the Chinese official ships to patrol the East China Sea and conduct law-enforcement activities in relevant waters.

"China is firmly determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights," said foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying. She emphasized that China's patrol and law-enforcement activities will continue.

China has always respected and maintained the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law.

 Hua said China has always been committed to peacefully solving disputes through consultation and negotiation with countries directly concerned

China, however, firmly opposes the United States' saber-rattling in the region under the excuse of that freedom, which threatens China's sovereignty and security, said Hua.

China's construction projects on the Spratly islands are aimed at improving working and living conditions of staff there while better fulfilling its international obligations, said Hua.

She said necessary defense facilities built in a sovereign state's territory represents its self-protection and self-defense rights, and has nothing to do with the so-called "militarization."

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