BEIJING – (UPDATED 7:03 PM) China on Saturday vowed to continue building in disputed reefs of the South China Sea, as state media said construction had finished on two lighthouses on reefs claimed by other countries.
Beijing has been bolstering its claim to almost all the South China Sea by rapidly building large artificial structures resembling islands, straining ties with neighbours.
The lighthouses on Cuateron Reef and Johnson South Reef in the Spratly islands have been officially opened, the state-run Xinhua news agency said late Friday.
China established control of the Johnson South Reef after a skirmish with Vietnam in 1988. The Philippines claims both reefs as part of its territory.
The lighthouses are 50 meters high, Xinhua said. State television grave prominence to images of the white-structures standing above blue waters.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in an online statement that they would improve “safety of navigation” for ships.
“Next, China will continue to build other civil facilities on occupied islands reefs in the Nansha Islands,” she added using China’s name for the Spratlys.
China’s building has increased tensions with Washington, which has condemned the structures.