The Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands
) are within China's territory, for which we have sufficient historical and legal basis,' Lu was quoted as saying in a transcription of his press conference posted on the website of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The operation of weather monitoring stations on three features in the Spratly Islands
Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefsis also part of Beijing's long-term effort to assert rights and exercise sovereignty in the contested waterway.
Aquino reiterated Manila's claim that Reed Bank is not part of the disputed Spratly islands
in the South China Sea, which is claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and in part by Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.
After months of verbal clashes, Aquino voiced hopes that his China visit will ''promote mutual confidence''' between the two countries as they try to put aside their territorial row in the disputed Spratly Islands
in the South China Sea and focus more on their economic partnership.
Vietnam occupies 49 outposts spread across 27 features in the contested Spratly Islands
, while the Philippines has 9.
Insisting that its constructions on the reefs and islands in the Spratly Islands
are meant to improve civil services, Beijing stressed that its installations on the artificial islands "is also a solemn pledge China has made to countries in the region and to the international community." "The projects kicked off this time will provide more public services to countries in the region and more effectively safeguard the security of navigation in the South China Sea and the production and life of the people of littoral countries," Lu said.
The Spratly Islands
are located in a section of the South China Sea that's been a matter of contention between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia, all of whom lay claim to parts of the region and have ongoing disputes with China, which has grown(http://www.ibtimes.com/south-china-sea-controversy-chinese-military-aircraft-likely-take-spratly-islands-2256245) increasingly aggressive in recent months in asserting its claim to the region.
It said China's outpost expansion effort is currently focused on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly islands
chain capable of supporting military operations.
China, Vietnam and Taiwan are claiming all of the Spratly Islands
while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are claiming part of the mostly uninhabited islets, reefs, shoals, cays and rocks.
Early this week, China announced it had launched a maritime rescue center on Kagitingan Reef, one of its seven man-made bases in the Spratly Islands
Despite China's expanding militarization in the region, Geng insisted that Beijing's constructions on the Spratly Islands
aim to improve the living conditions of people stationed in the area and to address maritime security threats.
Pagasa Island is one of the largest landmasses among the contested Spratly Islands
group in the South China Sea.