China

China to 'complete' South China Sea land reclamation

Satellite images of Fiery Cross Reef (CNES 2015, Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image / IHS) Image copyright IHS Jane's
Image caption Satellite images of Fiery Cross Reef (CNES 2015, Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image / IHS)

China will complete a series of controversial land reclamation projects in the South China Sea "soon", the foreign ministry says.

The US and countries with competing claims in the area maintain that China is creating artificial islands to use as military bases.

The ministry says they are for defence, but also maritime search and rescue, disaster relief and research.

China claims most of the South China Sea.

Last year, China increased its land reclamation activity prompting the US in May to call for an "immediate and lasting halt" to land reclamation in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

There has also been a spike in tensions between the US military and Chinese navy near the Spratlys in recent weeks.

'Fulfil relevant functions'

In the statement on Tuesday, China did not give a timeframe or identify which of the seven reefs undergoing land reclamation would be finished soon.

"China will complete its reclamation project soon as part of its South China Sea construction in parts of the Nansha islands," the foreign ministry said using the Chinese name for the Spratlys.

Once the land reclamation is complete, building would begin on facilities that can "fulfil the relevant functions", the statement said.

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