China Completes Island Construction, Will Now Build Military Facilities

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“I’m an amateur student of history and I’m reminded of … how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers… But unfortunately, up to the annexation of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, the annexation of the entire country of Czechoslovakia, nobody said stop. If somebody said stop to Hitler at that point in time, or to Germany at that time, would we have avoided World War II.”

That piece of revisionist history is brought to you by Benigno Aquino and is excerpted from a speech the Philippine President gave to the Japanese parliament earlier this month. 

Aquino was of course referring to China’s controversial land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea. Beijing’s construction of some 2,000 acres of new sovereign territory atop reefs in the Spratly archipelago has alarmed the country’s neighbors and drawn sharp condemnation from Washington, with President Obama accusing China of “throwing elbows” and using its size and relative to power to “bully” nations with competing South China Sea claims and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter assuring Asia Pac allies that the US will sail and navigate wherever it pleases.

The Philippines, in an effort to counter a series of Chinese documentary films that aired in 2013, ran a video called “Karapatan sa Dagat” or “Maritime Rights” on Independence Day. Reuters has more:

“Our objective is to inform our people,” Charles Jose, the foreign ministry spokesman, said adding they hoped to “rally support of our people behind our Philippine government’s policy and action”.

Now, the Chinese foreign ministry is out with a statement indicating the country has nearly completed its construction projects. While this could be viewed as a sign that China has effectively backed down, albeit on its own terms and at its discretion (i.e. saying the project is “complete” is something different than saying the project has been halted due to international pressure), that will likely come as no consolation to the US and its allies because even as China signaled an end to its dredging activities, it also implicitly admitted that it will continue to build military facilities on the islands, although this was buried in the fine print.

“Apart from satisfying the need of necessary military defense, the main purpose of China’s construction activities is to meet various civilian demands and better perform China’s international obligations,” the foreign ministry said, before saying that “after the land reclamation, we will start the building of facilities to meet relevant functional requirements.”

Since one of the “relevant functional requirements” is “satisfying the need of necessary military defense,” it seems China will continue to construct just the type of facilities on the islands that have become the subject of intense controversy. WSJ has more color:

China said it is shifting work on disputed South China Sea islets from the dredging of land to the construction of military and other facilities as it pushes forward with a program that has aggravated tensions with the U.S. and neighbors.

Analysts say the imminent end to China’s island-building work could signal a willingness to seek compromise with Washington and rival claimants in the South China Sea, even as it demonstrates Beijing’s ability to unilaterally dictate terms in the long-standing dispute.

For its part, China wants nothing to do with arbitration proceedings in The Hague, contends The United Nations has no jurisdiction, and says it will not recognize the tribunal’s verdict.

In other words, expect tensions to rise over the coming months as the supposed “completion” of Beijing’s “sand castle” building simply means China will now move into the next phase of development which is apparently the installation of military facilities.

Full statement from Chinese foreign ministry:

Full article: China Completes Island Construction, Will Now Build Military Facilities (Zero Hedge)

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