China is creating new facts with its land reclamation projects and militarization of disputed land in the South China Sea, secretary of defense Ash Carter told media en route to Singapore. While the United States does not have territorial claims over the disputed region, the government has a stake in the issue as China’s activities in the islands become a question of freedom of navigation, freedom on the seas, freedom from coercion, and abiding by peaceful and lawful processes. All these are being encroached by China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, Carter said.
Carter said that the government wants China to halt its activities over the contested region.
“What we’d like to see is a halt, a lasting halt, to the reclamation of land, and to the further militarization of these features,” Carter told press. The government is also asking China to pursue its territorial claims in a lawful way that is respectful to the rights and needs of the waterways of all nations involved.
Carter said that the U.S. will continue to fly over the region because it has been a long-standing fact.
“We’ve been flying over the South China Sea for years and years and years, and as I indicated today, we’ll continue to do that — fly, navigate, operate. So that’s not a new fact,” he said.
China is out of step
Jeff Rathke, director at the press office of the state department, reiterated the government’s stance in the issue. He said the U.S. will continue its activities in the region as an exercise of its rights under the Law of the Sea.
“This includes all of the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and of the airspace, and these are guaranteed under international law and are reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention,” Rathke said in a daily press briefing.
Asked about reports from Australian media saying China has already deployed weapons in its man-made islands, Rathke said China is out of step. The country is behaving contradictory to the regional consensus in favor of a non-coercive approach to the issue.
China needs not be told of what it suppose to do
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that no third party should be involved in China’s claim of sovereign territory. She said her country is acting appropriately as a “big power” and noted that “some countries keep on make provocations out of their selfish purposes, willfully challenging China’s territorial integrity and maritime rights.”
“China has its own judgment, and no others are entitled the rights to demand China how to act,” Hua told reporters.
Also read: World War III Brewing Over South China Sea
You might be interested: Nuclear War ‘This Summer’: US, NATO, Russia tensions Escalating