Freedom of navigation patrols carried out by foreign navies in the South China Sea could end "in disaster", a senior Chinese admiral has said, a warning to the United States after last week's ruling against Beijing's claims in the area.
China has refused to recognize the ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague that invalidated its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea, and did not take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines.
It has reacted angrily to calls by Western countries and Japan for adherence to the decision.
China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually.
The United States has conducted freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese-held islands, to Beijing's anger, while China has been bolstering its military presence there.
Speaking behind closed doors at a forum in Beijing on Saturday evening, Sun Jianguo, an admiral and deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the powerful Central Military Commission, said the freedom of navigation issue was bogus and one that certain countries repeatedly hyped up.
"When has freedom of navigation in the South China Sea ever been affected? It has not, whether in the past or now, and in the future there won't be a problem as long as nobody plays tricks," he said, according to a transcript of his comments seen by Reuters on Monday.