A week after the Hague-based arbitral court ruled that China has no legal basis for its claims in the South China Sea, a high-ranking Chinese military official said on Tuesday that Beijing’s ongoing constructions of facilities on islands and reefs in the Philippine-claimed Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) would not be halted.
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“We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands halfway,” the People’s Liberation Army Navy Admiral Wu Shengli told his US counterpart Admiral John Richardson in a closed-door meeting.
According to the state-run news agency Xinhua, Admiral Wu justified Beijing’s ongoing constructions on the disputed Spratly Islands saying it is an ‘inherent’ part of its territories and that the arbitral court ruling was a “piece of waste paper.”
“The Nansha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful,” Wu stressed.
In the last two years, China has constructed several facilities on the islands and reefs, including an airstrip and a radar system, which the US said could be turned into military use.
The Spratly group of islands is being claimed by several Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, and the Philippines.
China was dealt a major blow after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on Tuesday ruled that Beijing has no legal basis to claim “historic rights” over much of the South China Sea under its “nine-dash line.”
The ruling said China violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the sovereign rights of the Philippines to its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf when it constructed facilities on the disputed Mischief Reef.
While Manila welcomed the decision, Beijing dismissed it as “null and void” and a “complete farce.”
Admiral Wu said China was not intimidated at all with the ruling saying the Chinese military was prepared for any confrontation that may erupt as a consequence of the decision.
“Any attempt to force China to give in through flexing military muscles will only have the opposite effect,” he warned.
Despite China’s protest, the international community, specifically the European Union, has broken its silence on the recent ruling urging Beijing to respect international law.
The US, Australia, and Japan, among others, have also issued statements supporting the tribunal’s ruling and exhorting Beijing to abide by the decision.
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