US government: China building an airstrip complicates situation

US State Department reacted to the latest development in China’s reclamation works over Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef). The department said such activity will complicate the situation in West Philippine Sea.

“Large-scale construction or major steps to militarize or expand law enforcement operations at outposts, such as dramatically expanding the size of a feature through land reclamation, would seem to complicate or escalate the situation in our view,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said.

The spokesman added that claimants should “avoid certain actions during the negotiating process for the code of conduct” to “create a conducive and positive environment and dramatically lower the risk of a dangerous incident.”

In 2002, ASEAN countries and China signed the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The declaration states in Article 5 that parties should “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.”

Parties in the South China is in the process of a more binding Code of Conduct.

A Chinese general earlier said that Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam have already set up military facilities in South China Sea and that China should also establish their own.