China is generating much concern from other countries regarding their territorial intentions due to them “creating a great wall of sand” through land reclamation in the South China Sea.
Stripes.com reports that Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told a naval conference in Australia Tuesday that numerous countries in the South China Sea are “increasing regional tensions and the potential for miscalculation.”
“But what’s really drawing a lot of concern in the here and now is the unprecedented land reclamation currently being conducted by China,” Harris said.
“China is building artificial land by pumping sand on to live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving over them with concrete. China has now created over 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of artificial landmass,” he added.
Harris claims the region is famous for its beautiful natural islands, but “in sharp contrast, China is creating a great wall of sand with dredges and bulldozers over the course of months.”
Countries that have territorial disagreements with China regarding the sea have voiced their concerns about how the land reclamation projects have turned once submerged reefs into manmade islands, complete with buildings and runways. It is speculated the islands will be used by the Chinese military to strengthen their territorial claims.
All claimants are being advised by the United States to conform to the 2002 China-ASEAN Declaration of Conduct, that states the parties involved will “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.”
“How China proceeds will be a key indicator of whether the region is heading toward confrontation or cooperation,” he said.
China claims their territorial claims have a historical basis and are not fond of the U.S. “meddling,” despite the United States working toward a peaceful solution.
According to Harris, the United States is working to reposition 60 percent of its Navy to the Pacific Fleet by 2020.
“By maintaining a capable and credible forward presence in the region, we’re able to improve our ability to maintain stability and security,” Harris said. “If any crisis does break out, we’re better positioned to quickly respond.”