China is apparently building a “great wall of sand,” according to a top U.S. official. Its attempt at land reclamation is raising concerns over the country’s real intentions since the process is occurring in contested waters of the South China Sea.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris accused China of building the wall over the areas that have been claimed by several nations, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Fox News article said. China has created over 4 square kilometers of artificial landmass by dumping sand on to live coral reefs, then paving over them with concrete.
While China is entitled to almost all of the South China Sea, the Philippines and other countries are especially concerned by the land reclamation projects that might set them up for military capabilities that would further strengthen China’s territorial claims.
China said last year the action was “totally justified” because it had “sovereignty” over the area.
The U.S. says it has a national interest in settling the disputes peacefully. Harris said the United States is on track to reposition 60 percent of its navy to the area by 2020, allowing for a quick response if any crisis does break out.