China reiterates claim over Spratly after Duterte expressed hope China will temper behavior

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that the Spratly Islands are China’s inherent territory and that China respects the right to freedom of navigation and overflight that all countries enjoy in the South China Sea under international law.

This is after President Rodrigo Duterte during the launching of the Go Negosyo’s ‘Pilipinas Angat Lahat’ program at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace on August 14 said that he hopes China will temper its behavior.

“You cannot create an island, man-made, and you say that the air above this artificial island is yours,” President Duterte said speaking about West Philippine Sea. “That is wrong because those waters are what we consider as international sea,” he said adding that no permission is needed to sail through international seas.

The Chinese MOFA said in a statement sent to Reuters that China has a right to take necessary steps to respond to foreign aircraft and ships that deliberately get close to or make incursions into the air and waters near China’s relevant islands, and provocative actions that threaten the security of Chinese personnel stationed there.

“China urges the relevant party to meet China halfway, and jointly protect the present good situation that has not come easily in the South China Sea,” it added.