Beijing has raised the stakes in the South China Sea

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China has completed some of its land reclamation on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, raising the stakes in Beijing’s territorial dispute with its Asian neighbors.

China stepped up its creation of artificial islands last year, alarming several countries in Asia and drawing criticism from Washington. The United States, which has called for a halt in China’s island building, said earlier this month that it was concerned about Beijing’s plans for more construction work, including for military defense.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing that the land reclamation projects on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea had been completed “in recent days”.

China had been working on land reclamation projects on seven reefs among the tiny islets at the center of the maritime territorial dispute involving the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

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