SINGAPORE – China on Sunday rejected US demands to stop intensifying reclamation works in the South China Sea, saying it was exercising its sovereignty and using the outposts to fulfill international responsibilities.
Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff department in the People’s Liberation Army, told a security summit in Singapore that “the situation in the South China Sea is on the whole peaceful and stable, and there has never been an issue with the freedom of navigation.”
“China has carried out construction on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea mainly for the purpose of improving the functions of the relevant islands and reefs, and the working and living conditions of personnel stationed there.
“Apart from meeting the necessary defense needs, it is more geared to better perform China’s international responsibilities and obligations regarding maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and relief, maritime scientific research, meteorological observation, environmental protection, safety of navigation, fishery production, services,” he added.
China insists it has sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, a major global shipping route believed to be home to oil and gas reserves.
“When dealing with maritime disputes with relevant neighboring countries, China has always kept in mind the larger interest of maritime security,” Sun told the annual meeting known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.