BEIJING - Outsiders should respect rules and order set by countries in the South China Sea region in line with the international law, a Chinese spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks in response to US President Barack Obama's remarks about maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
Speaking of the freedom of navigation frequently mentioned by the US, Hua said the US needs to clarify whether it means legitimate freedom of navigation enjoyed by all countries in the South China Sea in line with the international law, or the freedom to go anywhere exclusively enjoyed by US military planes and vessels.
"If the US means the former, China certainly supports such freedom, but if it means the latter, I believe the whole international community will disagree," Hua said.
Hua said China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have reached a series of bilateral agreements and a regional consensus on addressing disputes through negotiations and consultations and jointly maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea region.
"They have formed important bases of rules and order in the region," said Hua.
She said outsiders should respect efforts of countries in this region to maintain regional peace and stability.
"Outside countries should not threat sovereignty and security of countries in the South China Sea region, undermine regional rules and order, and disrupt regional peace and stability in any form and under any excuses," said Hua.
On the relationship between big countries and small countries, Hua said country size is not the sole or main reason to judge whether a country is in the right or not.
She said in addressing disputes, country size is not the key to the problem. What's vital is whether the countries involved have sincerity and determination to resolve the disputes.
She said China has solved border issue with 12 of its 14 land neighbors through bilateral consultations and negotiations and in accordance with historical evidence and the basic rules of international law. Among these 12 countries, five countries are smaller than the Philippines in area and 10 countries are smaller than the Philippines in population.