BEIJING – China's foreign ministry says the country is not building an environmental monitoring station on a disputed South China Sea shoal, apparently denying remarks made by a local official last week.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday that reports about the facility on Scarborough Shoal had been checked and were found to be false.
The official Hainan Daily newspaper had quoted the top official in Sansha City, which administers China's island claims, as saying that preparatory work on the station was among the government's top priorities for 2017.
Such a move would likely renew concerns among Beijing's neighbors over its assertive territorial claims in the sea. Calls to Sansha government offices rang unanswered Wednesday.
Beijing seized tiny, uninhabited Scarborough in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels.