As planned, the land reclamation project of China will be completed in the upcoming days, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said. All activities on the islands and reefs fall within the scope of China’s sovereignty, and are lawful, reasonable and justified, he said. China is in fact ready to build new facilities, the spokesperson said.
The announcement comes as China confirmed it tested on Sunday a hypersonic glide vehicle capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The test has once again provoked the speculation of a looming third world war as it was done amidst the escalating tensions against U.S. over the South China Sea. This was the fourth nuclear testing conducted by China in duration of 18 months and military experts are making a fearsome analysis that the country is strengthening its nuclear defense against any attack from the U.S.
The Philippines, on the other hand, wants to appeal its case to the United Nations, saying China’s activities are violating the Law of the Sea.
China almost done with reclamation projects in South China Sea
Kang said China’s activities over South China Sea “are not targeted at any other country, do not affect the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law in the South China Sea, nor have they caused or will they cause damage to the marine ecological system and environment in the South China Sea, and are thus beyond reproach.”
Kang reiterated that all activities on the disputed region are aimed at promoting China’s international obligations and responsibilities.
“After the land reclamation, we will start the building of facilities to meet relevant functional requirements,” the spokesperson said.
Nevertheless, Kang said China is committed to the path of peaceful development. He said the country is dedicated in resolving relevant disputes with relevant states directly concerned – all in accordance with the international law on the basis of respecting China’s historical facts.
China tests hypersonic nuclear glide vehicle amidst South China Sea spat
The defense ministry also confirmed it conducted testing of Wu-14, a nuclear glide vehicle on Sunday, the South China Morning Post reported. The tests came a day ahead of a meeting between China’s Central Military Commission vice-chairman Fan Changlong and US defense secretary Ash Carter.
Military experts believed the nuclear testing was strategically timed for Fan’s visit to Washington. It can be viewed as Fan’s leverage to make it clear to U.S. that it disapproved its intervention in the South China Sea.
“The test is aimed at helping Fan increase the People’s Liberation Army’s bargaining power on the negotiation table when he deals with his US counterpart,” Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong told the South China Morning Post.
Professor He Qisong, a defense policy specialist at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, spoke of the same analysis.
“The Wu-14 … is designed to penetrate US missile defence systems, meaning the PLA is capable of defending China’s territorial sovereignty,” he said.
“Neither China nor the US wants to declare war over the South China Sea issues,” he said.
China’s defense ministry also denied that the nuclear testing conducted on Sunday was aimed at any particular country. The firing was just part of China’s scientific research and experiments. Such testing in China’s territory is normal, the ministry told the South China Morning Post.
Philippines to ask the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of The Sea or Itlos
Philippine Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Monday that Philippines should ask Itlos to bar China from its unlawful activities over the South China Sea.
“China has destroyed seven reefs in less than two months. Seventy-percent of fish in the Philippines are spawned here and are carried by the tides to Palawan and even Vietnam. So this is our food source. And China doesn’t care,” Carpio was quoted as saying by local media.
Carpio said UN can stop China as per the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea or Unclos which stated that countries “have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment.” He said China has violated Article 123 of the Unclos which states neighbor countries that share enclosed or semienclosed sea have to “cooperate with each other in the exercise of their rights and in the performance of their duties.”
Further so, under article 50 of Unclos, China’s artificial islands are not legal islands, Carpio said. “They have no territorial sea, no territorial airspace” for China constructed them without due notice, without telling the relevant states as mandated by the law.