South China Sea Island building-expert: no “territorial expansion” by China


China’s artificial island building in the South China Sea is a product of defending its historical territory claims and not a case of territorial expansion, according to an Australian analyst.


China is building a series of safe havens within its territory in the South China Sea, aimed at better protecting human lives and property that are often vulnerable in the rough seas.

Greg Austin is a former Australian intelligence analyst who has studied the South China Sea for over 30 years.

SOUNDBITE: GREG AUSTIN, University of New South Wales
“The idea that the building of these artificial islands is somehow creeping territorial expansionism is really not what China thinks it is.China is trying to keep alongside a position against the rival claimants who have occupied all of the natural islands. China’s only natural option was to build up these artificial Islands.”

Austin says, China is defending historical claims that were first made in 1933 by the then government and date back almost five centuries.

SOUNDBITE: GREG AUSTIN, University of New South Wales
“We shouldn’t allow our shock at China’s building up of artificial islands to somehow convince us that this is naked aggression by China. It’s not naked aggression.”
“There is no evidence of any Chinese government attack or pressure on any commercial shipping in the South China Sea since 1949 when the communist party took control of mainland China, and even before.”

Austin says, the only countries to ever use significant force against commercial shipping in the area were the Japanese and allied forces against each other in World War II.

Austin calls on China to take a leadership role and settle the dispute once and for all.

SOUNDBITE: GREG AUSTIN, University of New South Wales
“So um, as senior Chinese officials have said in the last two weeks, China showed great flexibility, great responsiveness in negotiating disputed land boundaries, ah, all along its border in the last 20 to 30 years, including the disputed border with the former Soviet Union and Russia. Ah, well, we’re really looking to China now to see how it can apply its creativity to try and settle down this dispute.”

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