Unprecedented? Or perhaps even refreshing? For the first time, Beijing has offered a more elaborate clarification about its recent activities in the South China Sea?
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying, in response to a question posed during the ministry press conference on April 9 about Chinese land reclamation around the Meiji Reef (or Mischief Reef, also claimed by the Philippines) said that the work conducted has “the main purposes of optimizing their functions, improving the living and working conditions of personnel stationed there, better safeguarding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, as well as better performing China’s international responsibility and obligation in maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine science and research, meteorological observation, environmental protection, navigation safety, fishery production service and other areas.” She added that following the construction China will be able “to provide all-round and comprehensive services to meet various civilian demands besides satisfying the need of necessary military defense. The maritime areas in the South China Sea, where shipping lanes criss-cross and fishing grounds scatter around, are far away from the landmass.”
In addition, a “common public goods” spin was offered, with Hua stating that “civilian functions and facilities will be included in the construction for ships to take shelter, and for navigation aid, search and rescue, marine meteorological observation and forecast, fishery service and administration, so as to provide services to ships of China, neighboring countries and other countries that sail across the South China Sea.”