China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday reasserted its claim on Scarborough Shoal in the disputed West Philipine Sea (South China Sea).
Asked if China had plans for land reclamation at Scarborough Shoal in the northern part of the Spratly archipelago this year, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing that it was the country's right to decide whether to take action or not in its own territory.
"I have noticed that some media recently kept spreading news and forecasting that China would take actions at Scarborough Shoal. I think this exposes some people's anxiety inside. I want to reiterate that Scarborough Shoal is China's inherent territory. No matter if China takes actions at Scarborough Shoal or not, it is within China's sovereign rights. The Chinese government has confidence and is completely capable of safeguarding its sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests away from violation," Hua told a daily briefing.
Some reports said of late that several members of the U.S. Congress suggested naval operations cruising within 12 nautical miles of the islands in the disputed waters should become routine, and sending U.S. ships into the area every three months was not sufficient to send a strong message to China.
Asked to comment on this, Hua said China opposed any activities that could damage the country's security interests in the name of freedom of navigation.
"I want to reiterate that China consistently respects and supports other countries' real freedom of navigation under International Law, but we resolutely oppose any activities that do harm to China's sovereignty and security interests in the name of freedom of navigation," Hua said.
China claims most of the South China Sea, but Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.