China will continue building islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea but a major conflict in the region over the dispute is unlikely, according to a State Department security report.
“Beijing will continue to develop contested territories in the South China Sea,” says the internal report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). “Unlike fishing boats or patrol vessels, infrastructure investments, such as land reclamation and the construction of runways and lighthouses, signal a more permanent presence.”
The report’s conclusion that China will continue island-building and militarization in the sea contrasts with the message sent last week by Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
In several speeches and comments during a visit to Asia, Carter called on China to halt the building, which to date has produced some 2,000 acres of new islands, and the construction of military facilities and deployment of weapons systems on the islands.