Tiny islands key to ownership of South China Sea

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In response, China says it’s “severely concerned” about the South East Asian nations’ statement.

South East Asia says China’s actions have “eroded trust and confidence and may undermine peace, security and stability”.

China retorts that what it’s doing is “entirely legal and shouldn’t be questioned”.

Are the gloves coming off in the South China Sea disputes?

China has reacted angrily to a formal statement issued on Monday by the 10 countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations, criticising its huge island-building programme in the Spratly Islands.

China is using dredging ships and construction teams to turn at least six coral reefs into large bases with harbours.

One will have a 2,900-metre (1.8-mile) long runway.

There is widening concern that China will use these bases as springboards to assert control over the whole of the South China Sea.

China says it is just protecting its territorial rights and its fishing fleet.

It seems bizarre that some of the smallest islands on the planet now lie at the centre of one the world’s biggest territorial disputes.

Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29560533

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