Beijing: In a guarded response to India`s assertion that the South China Sea belonged to the world, China on Monday claimed that it fully guaranteed the freedom of navigation in the region and had not allowed its maritime disputes to disrupt it in any way.
Maintaining that China has indisputable sovereignty over the "Nansha Islands", also claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea (SCS), Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin said China has fully guaranteed the international navigation according to the international law.
When his reaction was sought to External Affairs Minister S M Krishna`s remarks last week that India maintains that the SCS belonged to the world and its trade ways must be free for international navigation, Liu, in a rejoinder sent to the media here, said the robust economic development in the East Asian region demonstrated that navigation has not been affected by the dispute.
"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. The disputes over sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction of the SCS should be resolved through negotiation between sovereign states that are directly concerned," he said.
"As for the freedom of navigation on the South China Sea, I want to point out that such freedom of all countries on the South China Sea has been fully guaranteed according to international law, which is a fact for all to see," he said.
"Anyone who is objective and fair is well aware of this point. The robust economic development of East Asia and Southeast Asia over the years has also demonstrated that the freedom of navigation on the South China Sea has not been affected by the dispute over the Nansha Islands at all," he said.
Krishna`s comments on the South China Sea came days after a Chinese think tank said that India faced "political and economic risks" by taking part in oil exploration off the bloc claimed by Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea.
The participation of the ONGC Videsh in oil exploration off Vietnam would make the dispute "more complicated", Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, had said.
China, which claims that the entire SCS belonged to it, has raised its objection to the ONGC participation last year.
On its part, India brushed off the objection saying that it was a commercial contract.
Also, an Indian naval ship reported to have received a radio message from an anonymous caller stating that it was passing through Chinese waters while it was navigating through the SCS after visiting a Vietnam port.
Besides Vietnam and China, Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Taiwan claim rights over several of the uninhabited islands in the SCS, which are believed to be rich in oil and gas.