The number of the military facilities China builds on its South China Sea islands will depend on the level of threat it faces, the nation's Navy chief told his US counterpart on Wednesday, stressing that Beijing does not seek militarization.
This month, Beijing landed three commercial airplanes on Yongshu Jiao in the Nansha Islands. Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States protested, but Beijing said its sovereignty over the region is indisputable.
Earlier in January, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that China had completed an airfield on Yongshu Jiao, its southernmost airfield.
Chinese Naval Commander Wu Shengli told US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson during a teleconference that the landings were made to see whether the airport was up to civilian airline standards, Xinhua reported, quoting a People's Liberation Army news release.
This would better help China meet its international obligations and provide more public service to other countries, Wu said.
"Our necessary defensive step of building on islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands is not militarization, but that interpretation has been maliciously hyped up by certain countries and media," Wu said.
Any militarization would depend on the purpose of the construction and how the facilities are used once they are completed, he said.
"We will certainly not seek the militarization of the islands and reefs, but we won't neglect to set up defenses. How many defenses completely depends on the level of threat we face," Wu said.