China said on Monday it has sovereign and administrative rights to the Taiwan Strait, denying US claims that the channel consists of international waters. Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the strait fell within China’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and domestic law. “China enjoys sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait, while respecting the legitimate rights of other countries in the relevant maritime areas,” Wang said in Beijing. “There is no such thing as ‘international waters’ in UNCLOS. By claiming that the Taiwan Strait is international waters, some countries intend to create an excuse for its manipulation of the Taiwan issue and threaten China’s sovereignty and security.” China, US defence chiefs square off on Taiwan in first face-to-face talks According UNCLOS, countries can claim an area 12 nautical miles (22km) from the coast as their territorial seas, where they have full sovereignty. They can also claim waters up to 200 nautical miles from the coast as an exclusive economic zone, where they have a sovereign right to the water column and sea floor as well as resources, but other countries still have the right to sail through or fly over the waters. The law does not include a definition of “international waters”, but the term is often used informally to refer to waters that are beyond the territorial sea or to areas outside EEZs that do not belong to any state’s jurisdiction. Wang made his comments in response to reports that Chinese military officials have repeatedly told their US counterparts the Taiwan Strait – which is 220 nautical miles at its widest part – is not international waters. He emphasised Beijing’s position that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China and said China’s territorial seas and EEZ cover the entire strait. The strait that separates the Chinese mainland and Taiwan has been seen as a possible international flashpoint, with Beijing never renouncing the use of force to bring the island under its control. On Saturday , Defence Minister Wei Fenghe told his US counterpart Lloyd Austin at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore: “If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight … We will fight at all costs. And we will fight to the very end. This is the only choice for China.” Chinese defence officials take aim at US’ Taiwan-Ukraine comparison The US is not a signatory to UNCLOS. Besides routine passages through the Taiwan Strait by naval ships and warplanes, the US military also regularly sends its vessels near Chinese-controlled islands and reefs in the disputed South China Sea. “The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and that includes transiting through the Taiwan Strait,” Lieutenant Colonel Martin Meiners, a Pentagon spokesman, told Bloomberg.