China stresses fishery vessel on "routine mission" in South China Sea
China's largest fishery administration vessel, China Yuzheng 311, arrives in the Xisha Islands March 17, 2009. The vessel will patrol the South China Sea.(Xinhua Photo)
BEIJING, March 17 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday denied it was "flexing military might" by sending a fishery administration vessel to the South China Sea, saying the ship was on a "routine mission" in Chinese territorial waters.
"China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands of the South China Sea and their adjacent waters," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press briefing.
His comments came after he was asked to respond to accusations of China "flexing military might" by sending vessel to the South China Sea.
"The vessel was heading there for a routine fishery administration mission," said Qin.
The vessel, China Yuzheng 311, would be mainly used to patrol waters of China's exclusive economic zones including the Nansha, Xisha and Zhongsha islands, said Wu Zhuang, director of Administration of Fishery and Fishing Harbor Supervision for South China Sea.
"The Chinese government has all along attached great importance to the fishery administration of the South China Sea," said Qin.
The vessel arrived in the Xisha Islands around Tuesday noon after a week-long voyage from its home port in Guangzhou.
The vessel is operated by the Agriculture Ministry's South China Sea Fishery Administration Bureau and is the largest of its kind with a maximum displacement of 4,450 tonnes.