‘No Such Thing’: Beijing Balks at Island Construction in South China Sea

© AFP 2023 / SAM YEHTwo excavators are pictured at a construction site on Taiping island in the Spratly chain in the South China Sea on March 23, 2016
Two excavators are pictured at a construction site on Taiping island in the Spratly chain in the South China Sea on March 23, 2016 - Sputnik International
The Chinese Defense Ministry rejects the notion that man-made islands are a real fixture in the South China Sea, alleging there is “no such thing” via a spokesman on Thursday.

Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian promptly acknowledged that China had engaged in a large construction endeavor in the South China Sea, but said "most of the building is for civilian purposes."

Wu declined to specify exactly what was meant by the comment, saying that Beijing has already provided this explanation on multiple occasions. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang has said China’s projects in the sea are "a normal right under international law for sovereign nations," while noting that the construction is "normal" and not part of plans to militarize the region.  

In a slight against Washington, Wu said regional countries have reached a stable equilibrium in the South China Sea for now, but outsiders want to amplify hostilities concerning the area’s waters.

An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Taiwanese military plane shows the view of Itu Aba, which the Taiwanese call Taiping, at the South China Sea, March 23, 2016 - Sputnik International
China Nears Completion of Military Bases on S China Sea Reefs - Think Tank

Satellite imagery captured on March 6 showed the build-up of a military installation on the North Island of the Paracels. Taiwanese media outlets noted that the construction looked like "preparation for a harbor," indicating China may be looking to bolster its naval presence in the area. The Paracels are claimed by a host of countries, including China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

In the nearby Spratly Islands, China has developed structures that defense analysts say could be used to store and station surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. One US intelligence official remarked that “it is not like the Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it," Sputnik reported February 23.  

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has blasted Beijing’s activity in the South China Sea as illegal and threatened to blockade China’s access to the area. This prompted an op-ed in the Global Times to fire back, saying that blockades in the South China Sea would lead to a "military clash."

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