March 10 (Reuters) - Following is a statement from the Chinese embassy in Washington in response to an incident involving Chinese ships and a U.S. naval vessel in the South China Sea on Sunday. The statement was carried by the website of Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television (news.ifeng.com).
“In response to U.S. claims that a naval ship was harassed by the Chinese side, the concerned official in China’s embassy to the United States stated: The U.S. navy vessel concerned has been consistently conducting illegal surveying in China’s special economic zone. China believes this contravenes international laws of the sea and China’s relevant laws. China has repeatedly used diplomatic channels to demand the U.S. side cease unlawful activities in China’s special economic zone. China’s law enforcement authorities have also sent vessels to carry out law enforcement activities. The U.S. claim about operating in high seas is out of step with the facts. This official stressed that China cannot accept the baseless U.S. accusations, that China demands the U.S. cease this kind of illegal surveying activity and do more things beneficial to the stable development of China-U.S. relations. This official also stated that the Chinese government will make a formal statement about this incident.”
Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Dean Yates