China is defending its efforts to reclaim and develop land in disputed waters in the South China Sea, saying these pose no threat to other nations.
Satellite images show China has significantly expanded reclamation and construction work on several reefs it controls in Spratly Islands in the past two years, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
“This construction does not target or affect anyone,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
“We are not like some countries who engage in illegal construction in another person’s house and we do not accept criticism from others when we are merely building facilities in our own yard. We have every right to do things that are lawful and justified,” Wang said.
United States officials have spoken out in recent weeks against the construction work, which defense experts say could form a network of island fortresses to help enforce Chinese control of most of the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.
Vietnam publicly protested China’s reclamation work last week.
Other claimants including Vietnam have also built infrastructure on islands and reefs they control but on a much smaller scale than China, US officials and defense experts were quoted as saying.
China’s claims over almost all of the South China Sea are disputed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines.
In the past year, China has tried to improve relations with its neighbors by unveiling plans for massive investment in roads, pipelines, ports and other infrastructure that it says will help build new overland and maritime trade routes between Asia and Europe.
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