BY IMJAD IBRAHIM
China is attempting another grand feat, reclaiming land to create a great wall of sand in the South China Sea and stirring serious concerns about its territorial intentions, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet Admiral Harry Harris Jr said.
Admiral Harris told a naval conference at the Australian War Memorial yesterday that rival territorial claims by several nations in the South China Sea are “increasing regional tensions and the potential for miscalculation”.
“China is building artificial land by pumping sand onto live coral reefs — some of which have turned a number of previously submerged reefs into artificial islands with buildings, runways and wharves paving over them with concrete,” he said. “China has now created over four square kilometres of artificial landmass.”
Admiral Harris said the region is known for its beautiful natural islands, however “in sharp contrast, China is creating a great wall of sand with dredgers and bulldozers over the course of months.”
China claims as its territory most of the South China Sea. The Philippines and other countries that have territorial disputes with China in the region have been particularly concerned by the land reclamation projects. They say the islands could be used for military and other facilities to bolster China’s territorial claims.