China officer says island fortification driven by threats
BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese naval officer says Beijing may further fortify man-made islands in the South China Sea depending on threats faced by the country.
Navy academy researcher Senior Capt. Zhang Junshe repeated China’s stance that it has the legal right to take whatever measures it deems appropriate on the islands in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.
Pentagon officials have long said that China has failed to fulfill a 2015 pledge by President Xi Jinping not to expand development in the area, where it has built seven islands by piling sand and cement on coral reefs, equipping some with airfields.
China says the development primarily serves civilian purposes.
Five other governments have territorial claims that overlap with China’s in the strategically vital waterway.