This year’s First Sea Lord/RUSI International Sea Power Conference saw Chinese Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) North Sea Flee, stated that the South China Sea, as the name indicates, is a sea area that belongs to China.
Yubai’s statement came in response to Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Command and Staff College, Vice Admiral Umio Otsuka, who criticized the land reclamation activities of “certain state actors” in the region, The Diplomat reported.
“The South China Sea, as the name indicates, is a sea area that belongs to China. And the sea from the Han dynasty a long time ago where the Chinese people have been working and producing from the sea,” Admiral Yubai said through an interpreter.
The Japanese admiral warned that China’s activities could turn the area from “an ocean of peace” to an “ocean of war.”
Admiral Yubai added, however, “I’m firmly convinced that the problems around the South China Sea, so far, can be successfully solved with the joint efforts and consultation of the hosting countries around the South China Sea.”
He also said that China and the United States are working on an agreement for aircraft encounters, which will decrease the likelihood of conflict, according to Yubai.
China claims "indisputable sovereignty" over the Spratly Islands and its right to establish military facilities there. Beijing has repeatedly stated the artificial islands will be used primarily for humanitarian purposes.