China is about to complete some of its land reclamation work on the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, shedding light on a controversial project that has inflamed regional tension.
China has been taking an increasingly assertive posture over recent years in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
The Pentagon believes the work aims to cement China’s claim to most of the South China Sea and worries it may declare an exclusion zone that could limit the free movement of ships and aircraft.
“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 in a statement, using the Chinese name for the Spratlys, but did not give a timeframe.
The ministry reiterated China’s stance that its construction in the region is meant to help activities such as maritime search and rescue, disaster relief, environmental protection and navigational security, as well as military purposes.