Home » Budget Industry » PLAN’s Wu to CNO Richardson: Beijing Won’t Stop South China Sea Island Building

PLAN’s Wu to CNO Richardson: Beijing Won’t Stop South China Sea Island Building

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson meets with Adm. Wu Shengli, Commander of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) on July 18, 2016. US Navy Photo

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson meets with Adm. Wu Shengli, Commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) on July 18, 2016. US Navy Photo

The head of the People’s Liberation Army Navy told his U.S. counterpart that China has no intention of stopping its island building campaign in the South China Sea Spratly Islands, according to Chinese state-controlled media.

In the meeting between Adm. Wu Shengli and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, state-controlled media reported Wu told Richardson China would complete its push to outfit several artificial islands off the coast of the Philippines despite an international arbitration tribunal ruling last week that invalidated China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

“We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands [Spratly] halfway… the Nansha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful,” PLAN’s Wu Shengli told Richardson, as quoted by the Xinhua News Agency on Monday.
“Any attempt to force China to give in through flexing military muscles will only have the opposite effect.”

Wu also said that Beijing would reserve the right to increase defenses in the location, according to state media.

Separate to the meeting, the deputy chief if the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission warned continued freedom of navigation operation by foreign navies in the South China Sea near Chinese holdings could be dangerous.

“This kind of military freedom of navigation is damaging to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and it could even play out in a disastrous way,” Adm. Sun Jianguo said at a Tsinghua University on Saturday, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

The U.S. has conducted three freedom of navigation operations since October in the South China Sea, each time drawing the ire of Beijing.

Aside from the declaration of Beijing’s position on the ongoing island campaign, Wu said continued South China Sea security cooperation between the U.S. and China is, “the only correct option.”

Wu and Richardson discussed maritime issues for about three and a half hours.

“I thought the discussions were very open and broad in scope and very honest. We really covered the entire spectrum of our relationship – from those areas where our cooperation and collaboration is doing very well, such as participation in RIMPAC, areas such as port visits, areas such as use of the CUES arrangement to regulate our encounters at sea and keep them safe and professional,” Richardson said in an audio statement distributed by the Navy.
“We highlighted how useful and beneficial those areas but on the other hand we didn’t dodge the more contentious issues, the more solemn issues as the Chinese would say regarding disposition in the South China Sea, the recent court of arbitration ruling and those issues as well, recognizing that it’s only through being completely frank and honest that we’re going to make any kind of progress on these areas. Both of us recognize it’s an extremely important relationship and the that the navy to navy part of that relationship bears a great responsibility to make sure that we get to our mutual benefit.”

Following his visit in Beijing, Richardson is scheduled to visit China’s North Sea Fleet for a visit the Chinese Navy’s submarine academy and tour the aircraft carrier Liaoning (CV-16).


  • Joe Freeman

    Well, one thing about the artificial islands: They are easy to target. I doubt that they are too durable either. Be interesting to see what a few multi ton penetrator weapons would do to one. Not to mention a tactical nuke.

    On the other hand, allowing them to complete more islands is a really bad idea. It was expensive to rush the ring of fortified islands Japan had built to project its power into the Pacific.

    Probably best if the dredging ships encountered problems in construction of the next island. or two.

    Terminal problems.

    • John Tomlin

      I’d rather watch a video of Chinese dredging ships being sunk in a live fire exercise than watching the poor old ex-USS Thach suffering a similar fate.

      • Joe Freeman

        I kind of had the same thing in mind. The Philippinse should send a frigate out to conduct the live fire exercise.

        Supporting air and sea cover by the US and other interested parties navies and that would be the end of that particular form of Chinese expansion. It’s about the only hint the Chinese will take at this point.

    • Curtis Conway

      Let’s wait and see what a Typhoon does to the islands.

  • 2bnfl


  • John Locke

    What is the difference between China’s claim vs anyone else’s claim vs historical acquisitions made by European powers of the Middles Ages to the Modern Age or even acquisitions by the U.S.?

    • John King

      More recently, think of the illegal US Navy take over of Hawaii based on the calls of some white cattle ranchers and pineapple farmers who didn’t like the native government.

      • Elvis

        Yeah, there was a lot of that going on in the 19th century, especially by the British & French. Since conquest was frown upon in the 20th century, whenever an American company like United Fruit or Standard Oil complained, we orchestrated a coup to get a more pliable government installed.

    • Curtis Conway

      By Conquest?

    • KillerClownfromOuterspace

      Other people have valid claims? Sanity?

    • Hugh

      Under international law, as signed by the Chinese, all countries have a 200 mile EEZ – which China (or any other) must not encroach – yet they do.

    • incredulous1

      Of all the claimants, China’s claim is the least legitimate no matter the criteria you use.

      The problem is that we should not have let them get started in the first place. Now it’s a mess to clean up. All those new barracks and RADAR shacks and Admin buildings and fuel depots.

      And there are reports that they want to install nuclear reactors on the “islands,” presumably to immunize against future possible blockades. But more ominously, to deter attack lest US allies be downwind of radiation leaks. To me that is the last straw. If we see that starting to happen, its time to wipe the islands clean.

    • UnderCoverBrother

      About 1000 years; the United Nations; UNCLOS; Should I name a few more “differences?”

      • John Locke

        I think this answers the question more succinctly:

        https://wwww DOT lawfareblog DOT com/dispute-south-china-sea-legal-primer

  • William J. Laux, Jr.

    All the PLAN has to do is read the cover article in the current American Legion magazine, “Our Incredible Shrinking Military”, to know that the USA has neither the means nor the will to do anything about their island building. They will do as they please.

  • KillerClownfromOuterspace

    China’s sudeten land.

  • incredulous1

    When is the next typhoon? Hopefully between now and Jan 21, 2017. After that it’s a matter of, “practice makes perfect.” But who could possibly be surprised by this? Let’s see how the USN tries to spin this…
    I was also expected direct acts of belligerence from the PLAN or PLAAF during RIMPAC.

  • John B. Morgen

    Admiral Richardson is wasting his time, he should return home and prepare for a possible conflict with the Chinese.


    What was the CNO expecting the Chinese to say ? The Chinese are too big militarily and too important economically for the U.S to pick a fight with them over the SCS. The Chinese know this .This trip to China was unnecessary and the CNO makes the U.S look weak doing so.

  • Andre

    The PRC lied about halting reclamation activity last Summer. Perhaps now they’re telling some truth…

  • Joe is correct they, the islands, can not get underway, so now there are submarines, floating targets, and island targets. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

  • UnderCoverBrother

    Lets hope Obama wont draw another “red line” and then back away in fear. Show China the rule of law must be respected or face greater challenges in the future.

  • Aussie Andrew

    Admiral Richardson looks great; it was very thoughtful and considerate of him to wear a Chinese style jacket with high collar for the meeting; I see Admiral Wu also looks very smart in his English style Jacket.
    Isn’t it great that USA and China can sail the seas together in such a friendly manner?
    Together these fine admirals can view the beautiful tropical islands of the South China Sea in complete safety now that China has kindly built lighthouses, accommodation, radar stations and even airfield runways so that if an f-18 gets into difficulties the pilot can safely land there and he and his faulty aircraft will be well looked after by the Chinese Navy and technicians on the islands.
    Isn’t it wonderful that Uncle Sam and Uncle Xi get on so well together ????
    Some strange anti-Chinese comments on here; I wonder if these people have ever been to China ???