The Courier-Mail



SINGAPORE: China yesterday rejected US demands to stop its intensifyi­ng reclamatio­n works in the South China Sea, saying it was exercising its sovereignt­y while helping the rest of the world.

Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff department in the People’s Liberation Army, told a security summit in Singapore that “the situation in the South China Sea is on the whole peaceful and stable, and there has never been an issue with the freedom of navigation”.

“China has carried out constructi­on on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea mainly for the purpose of improving the functions of the relevant islands and reefs, and the working and living conditions of personnel stationed there.

“Apart from meeting the necessary defence needs, it is more geared to better perform China’s internatio­nal responsibi­lities and obligation­s regarding maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and relief, maritime scientific research, meteorolog­ical observatio­n, environmen­tal protection, safety of navigation, fishery production, services,” he added.

China insists it has sovereignt­y over nearly all of the South China Sea, a major global shipping route believed to be home to oil and gas reserves.

“When dealing with maritime disputes with relevant neighbouri­ng countries, China has always kept in mind the larger interest of maritime security,” Admiral Sun told the annual ShangriLa Dialogue.

Admiral Sun was speaking a day after US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter demanded an immediate end to China’s reclamatio­n works and said Beijing was “out of step” with internatio­nal norms in disputed waters.

“First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes,” Mr Carter said at the forum with Sun in the audience. “There should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamatio­n by all claimants. We also oppose any further militarisa­tion of disputed features.”

He acknowledg­ed that other claimants have developed outposts of differing scope and degree, including Vietnam with 48, the Philippine­s with eight, Malaysia with five and Taiwan with one.

“China has reclaimed over 2000 acres (809ha), more than all other claimants combined and more than in the entire history of the region. And China did so in only the last 18 months,” Mr Carter said.

 ??  ?? FACE-OFF: China’s Admiral Sun Jianguo and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.
FACE-OFF: China’s Admiral Sun Jianguo and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter.

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