China premier says will protect South China Sea freedom of navigation

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three (APT) Commemorative Summit on the sideline of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila on November 14, 2017. REUTERS/Noel Celis/Pool

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will firmly safeguard freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday at a regional summit in Manila, state news agency Xinhua reported.

"Li said China is the largest country in the South China Sea and a major nation that uses the lanes in the sea, thus China shows more interest in safeguarding peace, stability, and navigation freedom in the South China Sea than any other country in the world," Xinhua said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)