South China Sea: Beijing says it won’t stop building on artificial islands

Kuala Lumpur: China said on Sunday it will continue to build military and civilian facilities on its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea and the United States was testing it by sending warships through the area.

“Building and maintaining necessary military facilities, this is what is required for China’s national defence and for the protection of those islands and reefs,” Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

China planned to “expand and upgrade” the civilian facilities on the islands “to better serve commercial ships, fishermen, to help distressed vessels and provide more public services”, Mr Liu said, adding that China rejects the notion that it is militarising the South China Sea. He said China has mostly built civilian facilities.

Mr Liu’s comments at the annual East Asia Summit, this year hosted by Malaysia, were some of the most forceful explanations that China has given regarding its position on the South China Sea.

Washington was testing Beijing with its insistence on “freedom of navigation” patrols in the strategic waterway, Mr Liu said.

Full article: South China Sea: Beijing says it won’t stop building on artificial islands (The Age)

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