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US vows actions vs Chinese onstruction

SINGAPORE – Chinese construction on a South China Sea islet claimed by the Philippines would prompt “actions being taken” by the United States and other nations, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned yesterday.

Speaking at a security summit in Singapore, Carter said Beijing risks building a “Great Wall of self-isolation” with its military expansion in the contested waters, but he also proposed stronger bilateral security cooperation to reduce the risks of a mishap.

“I hope that this development doesn’t occur because it will result in actions being taken both by the United States, and actions being taken by others in the region that will have the effect of not only increasing tensions but isolating China,” Carter said when asked about Scarborough Shoal in a forum also attended by senior Chinese military officials.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post has reported that China plans to establish an outpost on the shoal, 230 kilometers off the Philippine coast, which Manila says lies in its exclusive economic zone.

Beijing claims nearly all of the strategically vital sea and has developed contested reefs into artificial islands, some topped with airstrips. (AFP)