Expert refutes hype of China's "fresh construction work" in South China Sea

China Military
Huang Panyue

BEIJING, Mar. 16 (ChinaMil) -- Reuters reported on March 14 that latest satellite images shows that China has started fresh construction work in South China Sea, sending a signal that Beijing is continuing to strengthen its military reach across the vital trade waterway.

China is building civilian facilities on islands and reefs under its control, Chinese military expert Li Jie said on March 15. He pointed out that other countries have no right to interfere, particularly countries outside the region.

The satellite images cited by Reuters came from a private satellite firm called Planet Labs. The report said an image of North Island in the Xisha Islands taken on March 6 shows recent work including land clearing and possible preparation for a harbor to support what experts believe may be eventual ‘military installations’.

North Island is part of an arc of reefs that are expected to form a protective screen for China's Yongxing Island, which includes civilian facilities and a listening post, according to Reuters.

Li jie said that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and the adjacent waters.

He noted that China’s island constructions mainly include lighthouses, civilian airports, humanitarian aids and other civilian facilities in order to support international community in anti-terrorist, anti-piracy and maintaining the maritime security.

Senior Captain Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the People's Liberation Army(PLA) Naval Military Studies Research Institute, stressed that the construction on theXisha Islands is part of China's homeland defense.

Compared with Nansha Islands, the Xisha Islands is closer to the Chinese mainland and has no territorial disputes with other countries, let alone that China's construction there doesn't affect the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in any way, Zhang added.

Reuters also pointed out that China is not looking for confrontation with the United States over the South China Sea and is seeking a peaceful resolution to settle the disputes with other Southeast Asian countries.

China is strongly opposed to out-of-region country's interference in regional affairs and calls on countries within the region to properly settle the issue through negotiation, consultation and communication, said Li.

But if certain country plans to fish in troubled waters or take unfriendly actions, China should have a "stick" at hand and be ready to wield it anytime, he added.

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