The United States on Wednesday called for an “immediate and lasting halt” to land reclamation activities in the South China Sea, while urging China and other nations to seek a peaceful resolution of their maritime disputes.
China’s island-building efforts were “out of step” with the regional consensus, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said, delivering a strong rebuke of Beijing’s attempts to assert its claims in disputed waters.
“We want a peaceful resolution of all disputes, and an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by any claimant. We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features,” Carter said at a military ceremony in Hawaii, Reuters reported.
“With its actions in the South China Sea, China is out of step with both international norms that underscore the Asia-Pacific’s security architecture, and the regional consensus in favor of non-coercive approaches to this and other long-standing disputes,” Carter said.
In other comments, he said that US military aircraft and warships will continue to operate in the area as permitted under international law.
The remarks came a week after the US Navy sent a P-8 reconnaissance plane to film Chinese island-building activity in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
US officials say China has added some 2,000 acres to five outposts in the Spratlys, including 1,500 acres since the start of this year.
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