China on Tuesday said it would soon complete some of its land reclamation projects on disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) but that infrastructure work there would continue.
The island-building project would benefit military and civilian needs, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Chinese island-building in the strategic waters has alarmed its neighbors and fuelled tension between the Chinese and the US military around Spratly Islands.
“As scheduled, China will complete its reclamation projects on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands in a short time,” a ministry statement said, using the Chinese name for the Kalayaan islands or internationally known as the Spratlys.
It did not say when precisely the work would end but described the work as “lawful, reasonable sensible”.
China, which regards almost all the South China Sea as its own, intensified its building of artificial islands and facilities including airstrips in the contested waters in recent months.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the reclamation activities will satisfy the needs of military defense and civilian demands to protect China’s “international obligations and responsibilities in the areas such as maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine scientific research, meteorological observation, ecological environment conservation, navigation safety as well as fishery production service.”
After the reclamation, the diplomat revealed that Beijing plans to start the “building of facilities to meet relevant functional requirements.”
He did not mention the areas where the said reclamation is almost done but media reports said Panganiban (Mischief) Reef and Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef have now been turned into artificial islands that house a docking port and a military-sized plane.