China says it won’t budge on South China Sea sovereignty


BEIJING (AP) — China’s foreign minister is taking a hard line on the country’s claims to own virtually all the South China Sea, saying Beijing won’t permit other nations to infringe on what it considers its sovereign rights in the strategically vital area.

Wang Yi, speaking to reporters at an annual news conference Tuesday in Beijing, said that another nation’s claim to freedom of navigation in the region doesn’t give it the right to do whatever it wants — an apparent reference to the U.S., which has sent naval ships past reefs where China has engaged in island-building.

Wang sought to deflect allegations China is militarizing the region by building military facilities on the artificial islands. He said China’s development there was defensive and that other nations were being militaristic — not China.