China is about to complete some of the land reclamation work on Nansha Islands, also known as Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, the nation’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
“China will complete its reclamation project soon as part of its South China Sea construction in parts of the Nansha islands,” the ministry said in a statement, without giving a specific timeframe.
The ministry reiterated that the land reclamation is meant to help activities such as maritime search and rescue, disaster relief, environmental protection and navigational security, as well as military purposes, The Guardian reported.
The work will not affect freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, the ministry said.
China stepped up creation of artificial islands last year, alarming several countries in Asia and drawing criticism from the United States.
Responding to Beijing’s latest announcement, Washington said it was concerned about China’s plans for more construction work, including for military defense, Reuters reported.
“China’s stated plans do not contribute to a reduction in tensions, support the emergence of diplomatic and peaceful solutions, or bolster China’s disputed maritime claims,” a State Department spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.
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