China attaches great importance to the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing on Friday.
Hong made the remarks in response to a question regarding recent reports that border patrol police in south China's island province of Hainan were given the power to embark on and check ships that illegally enter its waters.
China conducts marine management in accordance with international law and national law and safeguards its territorial sovereignty and rights over the South China Sea, the spokesman said.
"Meanwhile, we insist that all relevant disputes with neighboring countries should be resolved through friendly negotiation and consultation," Hong said.
All countries have freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, he said.
"China highly values free navigation in the South China Sea," Hong said. "At present, there are no problems in this regard."
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