China will continue Nansha islands construction despite ruling: Navy Admiral

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson meets with Adm. Wu Shengli, Commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), at the PLAN headquarters in Beijing. Photo: US Navy

China will not halt construction activities on the Nansha islands, Chinese PLA Navy Commander Wu Shengli said Monday during a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Admiral John Richardson.

“We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands halfway… the Nansha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful,” Chinese Xinhua agency quoted the Admiral as saying.

The two commanders met at navy headquarters in Beijing to address current maritime issues revolving around the South China Sea dispute and the July 12 ruling in the arbitration case. The admirals also discussed the ongoing Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise and future opportunities for the two navies to operate together.

To remind,  the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague concluded that China’s territorial claims in the region had no legal grounding. The court made a differentiation between rocks and islands and low-tide elevations declaring that only naturally formed islands qualified for a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. This means that most of the rocks and artificially-built islands upon which China’s so-called nine dash line was based on did not give China jurisdiction over the territory.

Both China and Taiwan rejected the ruling declaring the tribunal illegal.

Wu Shengli also stressed that China would never sacrifice its sovereignty and interests in the South China Sea.

Reuters reported another Chinese Navy official warning that freedom of navigation operations could end in disaster as they represented “a military threat”. The U.S. Navy has increased its activities in the South China Sea recently conducting freedom of navigation operations in order to challenge the “excessive maritime claims” of the countries in the region.

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