According to China’s Foreign Ministry, the country’s massive land reclamation activities in the disputed Spratly Islands will be completed in the ‘upcoming days’ as planned.
“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 (Spratly Islands) will be completed in the upcoming days,” the ministry said in a statement posted in their website.
As soon as reclamation projects are finished, China will then build various infrastructures that will aid environmental conservation, maritime search and rescue and scientific research, among other ‘lawful, reasonable and justified’ projects which they claimed were ‘civilian in nature.’
China admitted, however, that their reclamation activities were also meant to strengthen the country’s defense but were not targeted to any country in particular.
The ministry also disclosed in its statement that the country’s projects did not ‘affect the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law in the South China Sea.’
The United States, however, thought otherwise. Last month, the US sent a Navy plane to monitor one reclaimed island in the disputed waters and was ordered by the Chinese military to leave the area.
The US, together with several Asian countries, then had increasing concerns over China’s reclamation works which they feared would solely be used as military bases to assume control over the disputed region.
At one point, US discovered that China positioned two motorized artillery vehicles in one of its reclaimed sites. But as of now, the vehicles had been removed.
China, for their part, assured that they will be resolving territorial disputes with neighboring countries while safeguarding their sovereignty.
“While firmly safeguarding her territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will continue to dedicate herself to resolving relevant disputes with relevant states directly concerned, in accordance with international law, through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts, pushing forward actively the consultation on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea together with ASEAN member states within the framework of fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
Next month, The Hague arbitral tribunal will hold oral arguments on July 7 to 13 for concerned countries in the disputed waters. The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs had already been preparing for its propositions.