China’s President Pledges No Militarization in Disputed Islands
Statement at White House offers few details, leaving some questioning commitmentSatellite imagery released on Friday shows that China has completed a runway on an artificial island in the South China Sea
By Jeremy Page, Carol E. Lee and Gordon Lubold, WSJ
Updated Sept. 25, 2015 6:00 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—China’s President Xi Jinping made a public commitment for the first time on Friday not to “militarize” artificial islands that Beijing has been building in the disputed South China Sea.
But in a news conference with President Barack Obama at the White House, Mr. Xi didn’t expand on the term, leaving it unclear how his commitment would affect China’s activities in the Spratly islands.
New satellite imagery released earlier on Friday showed that China had recently completed a runway on one of its artificial islands, which could allow it to accelerate construction and begin air patrols in the area, according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.
Mr. Obama had been expected to press Mr. Xi at Friday’s summit to freeze China’s island-building in the Spratlys, which has raised concern in the U.S. and among its allies about Beijing’s military ambitions.