China builds military airstrip on disputed island

The newly built facility stretches across Woody Island, part of the Paracel chain, China’s Xinhua news agency said late Tuesday.

The Paracels are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, and tensions between Beijing and Hanoi rose this year over Chinese construction and oil exploration there.

The runway is Beijing’s latest physical assertion of control in the area, two years after it declared a city named Sansha centered on Woody Island — known as Yongxing in Chinese — to administer vast swathes of the South China Sea.

Vital shipping routes run through the waters and they are believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits. Parts of the sea are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Xinhua’s report gave few details but said the runway was 2,000 meters long, and indicated it would have military uses.

Sansha hosts a military garrison and this year began setting up a patrol system intended in part to “safeguard national sovereign rights.” Expanded infrastructure and tourism are in the works, domestic media have reported.

Full article: China builds military airstrip on disputed island (Inquirer)

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