China concerned about possible US patrols around islands
China yesterday expressed "serious concern" about reports that the US is considering sending military ships and planes to challenge Chinese claims to islands it is building in the South China Sea, and said it would resolutely defend what it considered its sovereign territory.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the US needs to clarify its stance and that countries should avoid "risky and provocative approaches to maintain the regional peace and stability".
The Wall Street Journal first reported the remarks out of Washington, citing an anonymous official as saying Defence Secretary Ash Carter had asked for ideas about how to address China's moves to reinforce islands it occupies in the strategically vital area. Plans under consideration included sending ships and aircraft to within 12 nautical miles of the built-up islands, the report said.
China's land reclamation will be on the agenda when US Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Beijing this weekend on a brief trip in Asia. He is due to meet top leaders, including President Xi Jinping on Sunday, said a senior State Department official, who was briefing reporters ahead of the trip.