China conducting reclamation activities in unoccupied Islands in South China sea: Report

China has been conducting reclamation activities in unoccupied regions of the Spratly Islands like Eldad Reef, Whitsun Reef, Lankiam Cay and Sandy Cay, reported The Hongkong Post.

The Spratly Islands is an archipelago which lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam in the South China Sea.

Satellite images from US officials show new land formations around the Spratly Islands. A Chinese vessel with a hydraulic excavator has been seen operating near the islands.

China occupies seven islands and rocks in the Spratlys. The country has been militarizing them with runways, ports and radar systems. The islands which are believed to have rich gas and mineral deposits are claimed in whole by China and in parts by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), expressed concern towards China’s activities in the Spratlys Islands. It states that such activities by China contravene the Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea’s undertaking on self-restraint and the 2016 Arbitral Award.

“The US too expressed support for the Philippines amid reports of Chinese vessels swarming near Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the Spratly Islands and issued a statement that the reported escalating swarms of PRC vessels interfere with the livelihoods of Philippine fishing communities and also reflect continuing disregard of other South China Sea (SCS) claimants and states lawfully operating in the region,” according to The Hongkong Post report.

The report said: “The US Department of State, backed the Philippines’ calls for China to respect international law in the SCS, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 ruling of a Hague-based arbitral tribunal that voided China’s sweeping claims over the disputed waters.”

The report is groundless, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning. He accused the US of creating problems among the claimant countries, including the Philippines.

In 2022, a total of 193 Note Verbales (Non-Verbals) were filed by China against the Philippines. Beijing, however, continues to violate the Philippines’ sovereignty in the South China Sea which in turn affects the region’s peace and stability.

On Thursday, a Chinese fighter jet performed an unsafe manoeuvre after it came as close as 20 feet within a US military aircraft over the South China sea, The Hill reported citing the US Indo-Pacific Command.

A Chinese Navy J-11 jet pilot was shot down on Thursday, according to a news release from the command coordinating American military operations in the area.

It stated, it “flew an unsafe manoeuvre by flying in front of and within 20 feet of the nose” of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft, which forced the US aircraft to “take evasive manoeuvres to avoid a collision.”

The US aircraft was “lawfully conducting routine operations” over international airspace, the command said, reported The Hill.

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