US military says reclamation now totals more than 1,170 hectares, compared to an earlier estimate of 800 hectares
China has reclaimed more land in the disputed Spratly islands of the South China Sea than previously known, according to a new Pentagon report, which says Beijing is also completing construction of a runway on one of its seven man-made outposts.
Once the airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef was operational, China could potentially use it as an alternative runway for carrier-based planes, allowing the PLA to conduct “sustained operations” with aircraft carriers in the area, the report said.
China has dramatically ramped up its land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea this year, building artificial islands at an unprecedented pace to bolster its territorial claims in the disputed area, US officials said Friday.
The rapid construction of artificial islands in the strategic waters comes to 2,000 acres (800 hectares), with 75 percent of the total in the last five months, officials said.
“China has expanded the acreage on the outposts it occupies by some four hundred times,” said a US defense official. Continue reading