US defence secretary Ashton Carter has called on China to bring about an “immediate and lasting halt” to land reclamation in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
Carter has claimed that the reclamation is a disputed area of the South China Sea is “out of step” with international rules.
Other countries that also claim parts of the South China Sea and their territory have also accused China of illegally taking land to form new islands, which they believe could be used for military purposes. China has denied its actions are illegal and claims that the whole of the South China Sea is within its territory.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue conference, Carter said he wanted the “peaceful resolution of all disputes”.
“To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants,” he said.
He acknowledged that other claimants such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan had reclaimed pockets of land or built outposts in the area, but said “one country has gone much farther and much faster than any other”.
“China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres, more than all other claimants combined and more than in the entire history of the region. And China did so in only the last 18 months,” he said.
“It is unclear how much farther China will go. That is why this stretch of water has become the source of tension in the region and front-page news around the world.”