China said it will continue to build military and civilian facilities on its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea and that the United States was testing it by sending warships through the area, Reuters reported.
“Building and maintaining necessary military facilities — this is what is required for China’s national defense and for the protection of those islands and reefs,” vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told a news conference Sunday in Kuala Lumpur.
China plans to “expand and upgrade” the civilian facilities on the islands “to better serve commercial ships, fishermen, to help distressed vessels and provide more public services”, Liu said.
He said China rejects the notion that it is militarizing the South China Sea.
Liu said the country has mostly built civilian facilities.
His comments at the annual East Asia Summit, hosted this year by Kuala Lumpur, were some of the most forceful explanations that China has given regarding its position on the South China Sea.
Washington was testing Beijing with its insistence on “freedom of navigation” patrols in the strategic waterway, Liu said.
China, which claims almost the entire energy-rich South China Sea, has been transforming reefs into artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago and building airfields and other facilities on some of them.
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