China starts operating lighthouses on South China Sea reef
October 10, 2015
BEIJING — China has started operating two lighthouses on a reef on a disputed island chain in the South China Sea, a state news agency reported, amid rising concerns among the U.S. and China’s neighbors about Beijing’s maritime ambitions.
The Ministry of Transport held a completion ceremony Friday for the 50-meter-high (164-foot-high) Huayang and Chigua lighthouses on Huayang Reef in the Spratly Islands, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The Spratlys, mostly barren islands, reefs and atolls that are believed to be atop oil and natural gas deposits, straddle one of the world’s busiest sea lanes. They are also claimed by Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.
Tensions have been rising as Beijing has grown more assertive about its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. The U.S. and the Philippines have expressed concern that China’s land reclamation projects around reefs and atolls could be used to base military planes and navy ships to intimidate other claimants and threaten freedom of navigation, and have called for a freeze on such activity.
China has bristled at what it sees as U.S. interference in the region and says it is within its sovereign rights in developing islands made from sand piled on top of reefs and atolls.
China completes construction of lighthouses in South China Sea
October 10, 2015
China has completed the construction of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, the official Xinhua news agency reported, as tensions in the region mount over Beijing’s maritime ambitions.
A completion ceremony was held for the lighthouses on Cuateron Reef and Johnson South Reef in the Spratly islands, Xinhua said late on Friday. The United States and the Philippines have opposed the construction.
China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion (£3.3 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes every year, and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.
China said on Friday it would not stand for violations of its territorial waters in the name of freedom of navigation, as the United States considers sailing warships to waters inside the 12-nautical-mile zones around islands it has built in the Spratly chain.
Washington has signalled it does not recognise Beijing’s sovereignty over the several islands China has built on reefs in the Spratly archipelago and says the U.S. navy will continue to operate wherever international law allows.