China defends its patrols

'LEGITIMATE' PATROLS. Top Chinese military official, Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo speaks at the 12th Asia Security Summit Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2, 2013. Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP
A top general of China’s People’s Liberation Army says Chinese warships will continue to patrol waters where Beijing has territorial claims, despite rows with neighboring countries over the South China Sea and islands controlled by Japan. Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, says the patrols are legitimate and China’s sovereignty over the areas could not be disputed. Qi was responding to a question from a delegate at a security conference in Singapore, after he gave a speech in which he sought to assure neighboring countries that China has no hegemonic ambitions. In his speech, Qi says, “China has never taken foreign expansion and military conquering as a state policy.” One delegate though said China’s peaceful intentions were inconsistent with its sending naval patrols to disputed waters. Qi responds, “Our attitude on East China Sea and South China Sea is that they are in our Chinese sovereignty…So the Chinese warships and the patrolling activities are totally legitimate and uncontroversial.” China is locked in a territorial dispute with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea. Manila last month protested what it called the “provocative and illegal presence” of a Chinese warship near Second Thomas Shoal, which is occupied by Philippine troops.

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