WASHINGTON — China and other countries must end their quest to take control over islands in the South China Sea, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told Chinese Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan in Kuala Lumpur.
“He [Carter] called on all parties to permanently halt reclamation and militarization activities,” Defense Department spokesperson Peter Cook said in a release.
On Tuesday, Carter met with Wanquan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to discuss the situation in the South China Sea, and reiterated the US commitment to maintaining a power balance in the Asia-Pacific.
China has been constructing artificial islands on top of the coral reef habitats of the Spratly Islands, a group of more than 750 islands and reefs, over the past year. Beijing claimed sovereignty over the land and the 12 nautical mile zone surrounding the islands.
The United States has repeatedly warned it does not recognize the Chinese claims of sovereignty over the man-made islands, and has raised concerns over Beijing’s activities in the region.
“The secretary [Carter] affirmed to the minister that the US will continue to defend the principle of freedom of navigation, and will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” Cook said.
On Tuesday, Carter and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani confirmed during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur their countries’ intentions to carry out maritime operations in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. PNA/Sputnik