Fresh con­struc­tion starts on dis­puted is­land

New Straits Times - - World -

HONG KONG: China has started fresh con­struc­tion work in the dis­puted South China Sea, new satel­lite images show, a sign that Bei­jing is con­tin­u­ing to strengthen its mil­i­tary reach across the vi­tal trade wa­ter­way.

Re­gional mil­i­tary at­taches and ex­perts be­lieve the work shows China’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to build up its net­work of reefs and islets.

An im­age of North Is­land in the Paracels group taken on March 6 shows re­cent work, in­clud­ing land clear­ing and pos­si­ble prepa­ra­tion for a har­bour, to sup­port what ex­perts be­lieve may be even­tual mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions.

The pic­tures, pro­vided by pri­vate satel­lite firm Planet Labs, fol­low re­ports in Jan­uary show­ing work un­der­taken on nearby Tree Is­land and other fea­tures in the Paracels, which are also claimed by Viet­nam and Tai­wan.

Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang said yes­ter­day that China hopes to main­tain peace and sta­bil­ity in the South China Sea by push­ing for­ward with ne­go­ti­a­tions for a code of con­duct for ri­val claimants in the dis­puted waters.

Ad­dress­ing a news con­fer­ence at the end of the an­nual meet­ing of China’s Par­lia­ment, Li said “sub­stan­tive progress” had been made on the code. Agen­cies

REUTERS PIX

Satel­lite pho­tos show­ing Chi­nesec­on­trolled North Is­land, part of the Para­cel Is­lands group in the South China Sea, on Feb 15 (top) and on March 6.

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