LONDON, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming on Wednesday said that the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been a problem, warning that no one should underestimate China's determination to uphold peace and stability in the region.
Liu made the remarks at the annual Commonwealth Diplomats Induction Program. His remarks came weeks after Britain's HMS Albion-class landing platform dock entered China's territorial sea of the Xisha Qundao (the Xisha Islands) without the Chinese government's approval. The Chinese navy identified and verified the British warship in accordance with law and warned and expelled it.
The ambassador said that thanks to the concerted efforts of China and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the situation in the South China Sea has been improving.
"Relevant parties have returned to the right track of addressing disputes through negotiation and consultation," he said. "Relations between China and relevant countries have been sound and stable."
Liu stressed that countries in the region have the confidence, capability and wisdom to deal with the South China Sea issue properly and achieve enduring stability, development and prosperity.
"Yet to everyone's confusion, some big countries outside the region did not seem to appreciate the peace and tranquility in the South China Sea," he said. "They sent warships and aircraft all the way to the South China Sea to create trouble."
The senior diplomat said that under the excuse of so-called "freedom of navigation," these countries ignored the vast sea lane and chose to sail into the adjacent waters of China's islands and reefs to show off their military might.
"This was a serious infringement" of China's sovereignty, he said. "It threatened China's security and put regional peace and stability in jeopardy."
Liu stressed that China has all along respected and upheld the freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"Freedom of navigation is not a license to do whatever one wishes," he said, noting that freedom of navigation is not freedom to invade other countries' territorial waters and infringe upon other countries' sovereignty.
"Such 'freedom' must be stopped," Liu noted. "Otherwise the South China Sea will never be tranquil."
He said that no one should underestimate China's will to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests and no one should underestimate China's determination to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.