Beijing Says Has Stopped Sea Reclamation

Beijing Says Has Stopped Sea ReclamationBeijing Says Has Stopped Sea Reclamation

China has halted reclamation work in the South China Sea, the country's foreign minister said on Wednesday, at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers where the disputed waters have taken center stage.

China and the ASEAN have agreed to speed up consultations on a code of conduct for the South China Sea, Wang Yi said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

"China has already stopped," said Wang, when asked if China would temporarily halt reclamation work in the South China Sea. "Just take an airplane to take a look."

Wang also discussed the rising tensions over South China Sea with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, a flashpoint issue that has been stoked by Beijing's island building in the disputed waters.

"I had a good meeting with the foreign minister of China and I hope very much that at this meeting … we will find a way to move forward effectively together, all of us," Kerry said after their talks.

Wang, meanwhile, told reporters that Kerry "welcomed China's support for peacefully resolving the South China Sea issue."

Beijing claims control over nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping route thought to hold rich oil and gas reserves. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also have various claims, as does Taiwan, many of which overlap.

China is already building a 3,000-meter runway on Fiery Cross reef, which could ultimately be used for combat operations, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The US and some Southeast Asian countries have called for China to freeze such activities.

China has insisted it will not discuss the issue during formal meetings at the forum, saying disagreements must be handled on a bilateral basis between rival claimants.

Before the meeting, Kerry had said a host of other issues would command attention in the talks, including plans for a September visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the US and China's "great cooperation" on the Iran nuclear deal.