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article imageIs China getting too aggressive in South China Sea?

By Nathan Salant     Apr 19, 2015 in World
Washington, D. C. - U.S. officials are raising concerns internationally about China’s latest activities in the South China Sea that appear to threaten Southeast Asia allies.
Top U.S. leaders have been openly discussing the budding controversy, as the country’s military commander for Asia, Admiral Samuel Locklear, did last week at a conference in Washington, D.C., and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) termed China’s moves to set up outposts on mostly uninhabited islands as “aggressive.” according to the Reuters news service.
Even U.S. President Barack Obama said China, which claims most of the South China Sea islands as its territory, was using “sheer size and muscle” to push around other nations with claims on the islands, including the Philippines, a close U.S. ally, and Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, Reuters said.
"When any nation fills in 600 acres of land and builds runways and most likely is putting in other kinds of military capabilities in what is international waters, it is clearly a threat to where the world's economy is going, has gone, and will remain for the foreseeable future," McCain said about China’s construction work at the Spratly islands.
The work was revealed by satellite images reviewed by Jane’s Defense Weekly, a respected military journal, showing noticeable changes to Fiery Cross Reef and Subu Reef in the Spratlys as late as March 23, Reuters said.
Other major land reclamation work believed to be to build a military runway was reported being done by China much further north in the Paracel Islands, alarming close U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, Reuters said,
China contends its building activities were aimed at helping all countries in the region and that is “natural” for such work to include military defense facilities.
At a meeting in Washington on Thursday, China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, said it was "natural" that its reclamation work would include military defense facilities.
But he warned that “no person could impose on China a unilateral status quo” and accused critics of trying to “violate China’s sovereignty.”
Adm. Locklear said China could be planning radar and missile facilities at the Spratly and Paracel islands that could be used to enforce an air exclusion zone it has threatened to impose..
But Cui said reconnaissance activities by the United States may be in violation of the U.N. Convention on Law of the Sea, which bars “intensive and close-range reconnaissance” on other nations’ exclusive economic zones.
The U.S. is not a party to the law of the sea agreement, Reuters said.
"The United States has a strong interest in preservation of peace and security in the South China Sea,” a U.S. State Dept. spokesman told Reuters.
“We do not believe that large-scale land reclamation with the intent to militarize outposts on disputed land features is consistent with the region's desire for peace and stability," the spokesman said.
Foreign ministers from Japan and South Korea also were in Washington last week to express their concerns about developments in the South China Sea in a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Reuters said.
More about China, United States, Military, Islands, South china sea
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