Tags: china | building | islands | land | reclamation | south china sea

China's Building-Islands Effort to Reclaim South China Sea Almost Complete

Image: China's Building-Islands Effort to Reclaim South China Sea Almost Complete
Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. (U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Jun 2015 01:49 PM

China’s Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday that its island-building projects will be completed in the next few days, though construction will continue on the land in the South China Sea. China’s efforts to reclaim the disputed region through island-building have heightened tensions between China and the U.S., as well as other Asian nations.

"It is learned from relevant Chinese competent departments that, as planned, the land reclamation project of China's construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands will be completed in the upcoming days," said a Chinese Foreign Ministry website post, according to The Associated Press as per Fox News.

The continuing infrastructure building will reportedly be utilized for a variety of functions including maritime search and rescue, environmental conservation, and scientific research.

Lu Kang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, has addressed the international concerns over China’s reclamation of the strategic area by saying that building the islands is “within the scope of China’s sovereignty,” The New York Times reported. He emphasized that the island-building programs "do not affect the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law in the South China Sea."

China’s South China Sea land reclamation efforts are larger than any other country’s in the region. Over the past 18 months, China has built approximately 2,000 acres of land in the area, according to The Times. Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam also make claims to parts of, or all of, the sea. The U.S. has not taken an official stance on the Southeast Asian sovereignty disputes but maintains that all governments in the region must allow free navigation and try not to worsen tensions.

When a U.S. surveillance plane flew over the island projects in May, the Chinese navy issued eight warnings for the aircraft to go away.

"There's obviously a lot of surface traffic down there: Chinese warships, Chinese coast guard ships. They have air search radars, so there's a pretty good bet they're tracking us," Lieutenant Commander Matt Newman told CNN at the time.

China’s growing military presence in the region is not only a potential threat to air traffic, but also to maritime traffic. The South China Sea is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, partially because of its abundant fishing grounds, and oil, gas, and mineral deposits.

Still, Lu asserts that the projects are not solely for “military defense needs,” but for “civilian demands” as well, according to The Times.

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China’s Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday that its island-building projects will be completed in the next few days, though construction will continue on the land in the South China Sea.
china, building, islands, land, reclamation, south china sea
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2015-49-16
Tuesday, 16 Jun 2015 01:49 PM
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