On Monday, Admiral Richardson’s Chinese counterpart, Adm. Wu Shengli, said that China would continue construction in the South China Sea. In the past two years, China has reclaimed thousands of acres on seven features in the Spratly Islands, an area where Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan also have claims, building ports, large airstrips and radar installations.
“We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands halfway,” Xinhua, in a separate report, quoted Admiral Wu as saying, using the Chinese name for the Spratly chain. “The Nansha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful.”
Significantly, the Xinhua report on the air patrols said the flights encompassed the Scarborough Shoal, a fishing ground far to the north of the Spratlys off the coast of Luzon Island in the Philippines. China seized control of the shoal in 2012, using coast guard vessels to bar Filipino fishermen.
The tribunal ruled that China had violated what it said were the “traditional fishing rights” of Filipino fishermen in the area. The Xinhua article did not say when the air patrol took place and did not provide any details, other than saying that the bombers were H-6K aircraft, a modification of a decades-old Soviet design that carries air-launched cruise missiles.
China has not reclaimed land on Scarborough Shoal, a move that would most likely inflame tensions with the Philippines as well as with the United States.
And while Admiral Wu reminded Admiral Richardson about China’s position on the South China Sea, his remarks, coming only days after one of the most stinging rebukes to Beijing’s foreign policy in years, were moderated with calls for more cooperation between the world’s two biggest navies.
Continue reading the main story