President Barack Obama said on Thursday the United States is concerned China uses its “sheer size and muscle” to push around smaller countries in the South China Sea. His comments come after China defended its construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, saying it is needed to safeguard its sovereignty in the mineral-rich waters where China’s territorial claims overlap those of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. China on Thursday sketched out plans for the islands it is creating in the disputed South China Sea, saying they would be used for military defense as well as to provide civilian services that would benefit other countries.
We are building shelters, aids for navigation, search and rescue as well as marine meteorological forecasting services, fishery services and other administrative services [for China and neighbouring countries].
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying
It is rare for China to give such detail about its plans for the artificial islands. The rapid reclamation taking place on seven reefs has alarmed other claimants and drawn U.S. criticism, including from Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who is visiting Japan and South Korea this week. Hua’s comments came hours after a Washington-based think tank published new satellite images that show China is quickly reclaiming land around Mischief Reef in the Spratlys within an area the Philippines regards as its exclusive economic zone. The work on Mischief Reef is China’s most recent reclamation.
Where we get concerned with China is where it is not necessarily abiding by international norms and rules and is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions.
U.S. President Barack Obama