Obama blasted over military ‘muscle’ in S. China Sea
Beijing hit back Friday at U.S. President Barack Obama’s criticism of Chinese construction in the disputed South China Sea, arguing that it is Washington that has greater military “muscle.”
The Chinese foreign ministry’s retort came a day after Obama warned that Beijing was “using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions,” amid reports of controversial Chinese land reclamation efforts.
“The U.S. leader talked about China’s ‘sheer size and muscle,’ but one can also see clearly who has the biggest size and muscle in the world,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing.
She called on Washington to “genuinely make efforts to safeguard peace and stability” in the region.
Newly-released satellite images on the website of the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank show a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto a feature known as Mischief Reef.
Before-and-after images of other outcrops in the Spratly Islands show aircraft runways appearing from jungle, smooth-sided solid masses where there once was coral and man-made harbors replacing natural reefs.
Analysts say the pictures show how China is attempting to create “facts in the water” to bolster its territorial claim.
Manila, among the most vocal critics of Beijing’s actions in the region, on Friday appealed to the international community to intervene conceding it and other countries were powerless to stop China’s construction of the artificial islands.
“We are asking the international community to tell China that what it is doing is wrong, and to ask China to stop this reclamation work,” Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose told AFP.
China’s declared defense budget of 886.9 billion yuan (US$142.9 billion) this year is 55 times the Philippines’ 115.5 billion pesos (US$2.6 billion).
Manila believes Beijing is rushing the reclamation to undermine a United Nations ruling expected next year on a Philippine challenge to its claims, Jose said.
“We think China has a plan and they think they have the means to do it and they can actually do it. So that’s why they’re doing it,” he said.