Island construction can benefit wider region

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-17 0:28:01

China's foreign ministry said Tuesday that as planned, the land reclamation project on some stationed islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands will be completed in the next few days. According to satellite images released by the Xinhua News Agency, reefs that are under construction, such as Yongshu Jiao, have taken shape.

Although the scale of the reclamation work hasn't been unveiled, it can be calculated based on the satellite photos. Some foreign media outlets claimed it amounts to 800 hectares. It's uncertain whether the figure is reliable given the fact that foreign media has tended to exaggerate the area of the reclamation project. The main campus of Tsinghua University is located on 404 hectares.

Beijing has withstood pressure and proceeded with its land reclamation work. It has demonstrated its capability to finish projects in accordance with plans under complicated circumstances. It also shows China's resolution to safeguard sovereignty and maritime interests as well as offer public service to international society. 

This construction project has received intensive rebukes from the US. It has also flown surveillance flights over China's islands and reefs where there are construction activities. Other countries, such as the Philippines and Japan, accused China of being "aggressive." The new look of the islands and reefs is China's answer to external pressures and noise. 

The islands and reefs after completion will not serve as China's military outposts in the Nansha Islands. Apart from satisfying the need of necessary military defense, they will be mainly for civilian use. Nobody in Chinese society hopes islands and reefs such as Yongshu Jiao will become centers of geopolitical confrontation in the South China Sea, or wants to see them impair peace, dragging the country into military confrontations.  

Countries like the Philippines and Vietnam have conducted considerable construction work on the islands they occupy. China is making up for lost time. The relevant parties should understand China's determination to safeguard its interests and China's goodwill to preserve peace in the South China Sea.

Yongshu Jiao and similar islands will become an important Chinese foothold in the Nansha Islands. China will not use them in an aggressive way as outside observers claim.  They are expected to become the largest and most active service centers in the region. China deserves due respect to its rights of safeguarding the security of these islands and reefs.

It's hard to settle the South China Sea disputes in a short time. Despite constant breakouts of conflicts over the years, it's a relief that there has not been a military clash. If the controversy around China's island-building work can subside, it will benefit the whole region. Keeping a peaceful South China Sea is in the interests of all East Asian countries. It's the guiding principle of China when dealing with the South China Sea issue.

Posted in: Editorial

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