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US vows ’action’ if China builds new South China Sea structures

US vows ’action’ if China builds new South China Sea structures

SINGAPORE: Chinese construction on a South China Sea islet claimed by the Philippines would prompt “actions being taken” by the United States and other nations, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter warned Saturday.

Speaking at a security summit in Singapore, Carter said Beijing risks building a “Great Wall of self-isolation” with its military expansion in the contested waters, but he also proposed stronger bilateral security cooperation to reduce the risks of a mishap.

“I hope that this development doesn’t occur because it will result in actions being taken both by the United States, and actions being taken by others in the region that will have the effect of not only increasing tensions but isolating China,” Carter said when asked about Scarborough Shoal in a forum also attended by senior Chinese military officials.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post has reported that China plans to establish an outpost on the shoal, 230 kilometres (140 miles) off the Philippine coast, which Manila says lies in its exclusive economic zone.

Beijing claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea and has developed contested reefs into artificial islands, some topped with airstrips.

Manila says China took effective control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012, stationing patrol vessels and shooing away Filipino fishermen, after a two-month stand-off with the Philippine Navy.

The Post cited a source closed to the Chinese military as saying construction at the outpost would allow Beijing to “further perfect” its air coverage across the South China Sea, suggesting it plans to build an airstrip.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2016

Courtesy : BRecorder



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