While world watches North Korea, China builds in the South China Sea

Airstrips and military facilities on China’s Subi Reef as seen from a Philippine military transport plane on April 21, 2017. China has renewed its militarization efforts in the South China Sea while attention has been focused on North Korea. (Bullit Marquez/AP/File)

 

While the world has turned its focus to North Korea, satellite images show new Chinese high-frequency radar facilities on its controversial man-made outposts in the Spratly and Parcel Islands. China has been pressured to halt its militarization of the contested land.

While attention in Asia has been distracted by the North Korean nuclear crisis in the past year, China has continued to install high-frequency radar and other facilities that can be used for military purposes on its man-made islands in the South China Sea, a US think-tank said on Thursday. Continue reading

An extremely dangerous conflict is brewing between the US and China in a tiny archipelago in the South China Sea

Where lies the greatest potential for disaster in this ever more disordered world? In Russia’s efforts to rebuild its former empire? In the chaos of the Middle East, or the chronic instability of a nuclear-armed Pakistan? Conceivably, none of the above. A case can be made that the biggest danger is represented by a semi-submerged archipelago in the South China Sea called the Spratly Islands, object of a confrontation between China and the US and America’s regional allies that without wisdom and restraint could escalate beyond control. Continue reading

US watches as Beijing forges ahead with S China Sea oilfield plans

China’s recently published Resource Development Strategic Action Plan (2014-2020) says the country plans to establish a large oilfield in the disputed South China Sea in the next six years capable of producing around ten million tonnes of oil a year, according to Duowei News, a media outlet run by overseas Chinese.

From the end of 2013 China has accelerated land reclamation projects in the area, with Fiery Cross Reef, which is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan, being expanded to 0.9 square kilometers as of Oct. 16, making it now the largest island in the disputed Spratlys. Estimates based on a satellite image taken on Nov. 17 suggest that the reef has now grown in area to 1.3 square km and that the reclaimed land is structured like a landing strip. Under previous administrations China had pushed for the shelving of disputes and the joint exploration of resources in the region by claimant nations out of diplomatic considerations, Duowei stated. Due to the land reclamation projects and moves to build airports as well as calls for bids to exploit oil resources by other claimants, however, the shelving of disputes is no longer on China’s agenda. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, there has been an increased military presence in the region and moves that suggest China is moving forward with its plans to exploit resources. Continue reading

From reef to biggest island in Spratlys, and China’s not done yet at Fiery Cross

China has turned a strategically important reef into probably the biggest island in the Spratlys, Chinese scholars say, and the expansion is expected to continue.

Analysts said the continued expansion of Fiery Cross Reef, which China calls Yongshu Reef, is expected eventually to provide a vital outpost for Chinese military and civilian commercial activities in disputed areas of the South China Sea, many of which are closer to other claimants’ coasts than to China’s.

Beijing has yet to openly admit its plans to artificially expand reefs in the sea into islands. Continue reading