Chinese military keeping ‘all options open’
BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) –The Ministry of Defence says Chinese military will take all measures necessary based on their needs to cope with any security threats, following a United States warship illegally entering waters close to a Chinese island in the South China Sea.
China will not exclude any options in its efforts to protect its sovereignty in the South China Sea, the Ministry of Defence said ahead of an hourlong video conference between the navy chiefs of China and the United States on Thursday night.
“The Chinese military carries the mission of protecting the nation’s sovereignty and security,” said Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, at a news conference on Thursday, when asked whether the use of force was possible.
“The Chinese military has strong determination, enough power and many options. We will take all measures necessary based on our needs to cope with any security threats.”
Yang’s remarks came following the US sending the guided-missile destroyer Lassen into waters within the 12-mile limit of Zhubi Reef, of China’s Nansha Islands, in the South China Sea on Tuesday.
“Such action by the US threatened China’s national sovereignty and security, endangered the safety of personnel and facilities on the related islands and the safety of Chinese fishermen’s normal operations, and it damaged regional peace and stability,” Yang responded when asked about the impact of the US Navy action.
Admiral Wu Shengli, commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, and his US counterpart Admiral John Richardson, chief of US naval operations, were scheduled to hold a videoconference to discuss the situation in the South China Sea — the first such conference since an agreement on a mutual-trust mechanism was updated by the two nations’ defence ministries in September, Yang confirmed.
Wu was expected to express “a solemn and just stance” to Richardson on behalf of China regarding the Nansha incident, Yang said.
Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the top-level conversation between naval leaders would “play a significant role” in helping to resolve the conflicts and misunderstandings between China and the US.
“This video call gives them an opportunity to frankly exchange ideas regarding the South China Sea. I think Wu Shengli will take the chance to restate China’s policies and stance in the waters and seek to provide the US with a better understanding of the Chinese reefs and islands,” Zhang said.
“It also lays a foundation for future cooperation between the two countries, as this is a chance to demonstrate both sides’ willingness,” Zhang added.
Additionally, Harry Harris, the commander of the US Pacific Command, will make an official visit to Beijing “within this year”, Yang disclosed, although he said the details were being negotiated.
The US believes that the ship had entered international waters where it had freedom of navigation, and Washington planned to send more ships to the South China Sea, according to several US media reports.
Regarding these reports, Yang said: “We advise that the US should not go further on the wrong road. But if the US still decides to go its own way, China will take all necessary measures based on our needs.”
Yang added that the Chinese military’s determination to protect China’s sovereignty and security is “as firm as a rock”.