BEIJING– The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday voiced “serious concern” toward a U.S. official’s remarks on the Pentagon’s plan to send military aircraft and ships to the South China Sea.

Spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a routine press briefing that the U.S. side should clarify relevant remarks.

According to a Reuters report, a U.S. official said on Tuesday the Pentagon is considering sending U.S. military aircraft and ships to “assert freedom of navigation” around Chinese-made artificial islands in the South China Sea.

China has always advocated freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, Hua said. “But freedom of navigation does not give one country’s military aircraft and ships free access to another country’s territorial waters and airspace.”

China will resolutely safeguard its territorial sovereignty, she said, urging the U.S. side not to take any risks or make any provocations so as to maintain regional peace and stability. Xinhua/PNA