A runway China built illegally on the Fiery Cross Reef in the East Sea (Photo: AFP)

China’s construction on islands in disputed East Sea areas is “unwarranted provocation”, Malaysian armed forces chief Zulkefli Mohd Zin said at a security forum in Beijing on October 18.

He said China gave assurances that the construction was for civilian purposes and maritime research and to facilitate safe navigation, but time would tell what China’s intentions really were.

On October 17, Malaysian news agency Bernama quoted the country’s Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein as saying at the sixth Xiangshan Forum in Beijing that Malaysia remained convinced that a Code of Conduct (COC) was the best way to govern competing territorial claims over the East Sea.

He called for intensified consultations to ensure the expeditious establishment of an effective COC, adding that such efforts would be essential when ensuring proper management of vital sea lanes and open skies.

He also reiterated Malaysia’s viewpoint that problems in the East Sea should be resolved peacefully through multilateral platforms.-VNA