China has the right to set up an air defence zone in the South China Sea, but this will depend on the level of threats faced, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin says.

China hopes to return to bilateral talks with Manila over the South China Sea, Liu said on Wednesday, following a ruling by an international arbitration panel which found in favour of the Philippines on a number of disputes in the region.

In a policy paper released on Wednesday, China’s government asserted its sovereignty over the islands and their surrounding waters and opposed other countries’ ‘illegal claims and occupation’.

‘It is the Philippines that has created and stirred up the trouble,’ said Liu said in introducing the paper.

The paper blamed the Philippines for violating an agreement with China to settle the disputes through bilateral negotiation and said Manila ‘distorted facts and concocted a pack of lies’ to push forward the arbitral proceedings.

The Philippines claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea are ‘baseless’, and Chinese fishing boats have been harassed and attacked by the Philippines around the Spratly Islands, the Chinese government white paper said.

China is firm in upholding its sovereignty over South China Sea islands, it said.

The Philippines’ unilateral initiation of arbitration was an ‘act of bad faith’ it said, adding that China was committed to upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

Reuters/AP

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China has the right to set up an air defence zone in the South China Sea, but this will depend on the level of threats faced, China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin says. China hopes to return to bilateral talks with Manila over the South China Sea, Liu said on...