China reclaiming land to extend Spratly Islands reef in South China Sea, show satellite images

ANI
·2-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

Beijing [China], March 25 (ANI): China has extended another Spratly Islands reef in the disputed South China Sea, satellite images have showed.

Photographs taken by American space Technology Company Maxar showed that Subi Reef - which is also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam - had new land added to it that had not been visible in a satellite photo taken on February 20, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Kristin Huang, writing in SCMP, reported that the new rectangle of land, about 2.85 hectares (seven acres) in size, had been added to the southern edge of the ring-shaped coral atoll, which encloses a lagoon and has a channel for vessels to enter and leave.

Collin Koh, a research fellow from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the new construction could be used for many purposes.

It comes amid a dispute over nearby Whitsun Reef, with a reported 200 Chinese vessels being labelled 'maritime militia' by the Philippines, said Kristin.

The new construction is latest of the efforts by China, the Philippines and Vietnam to strengthen their overlapping claims in the South China Sea, where each has built up facilities.

China has been dredging and building artificial islands in the Spratlys since 2013, with some equipped with radar, runways and surface-to-air missiles.

Subi Reef is one of six artificial islands Beijing has claimed and developed in the South China Sea. It is 26km (16 miles) from Thitu Island, known as Pagasa by the Philippines, which has occupied it and built a beaching ramp.

Vietnam has installed emplacements for air and coastal defence systems on most of its bases in the Spratlys, with the most significant upgrades being at West Reef and Sin Cowe Island, according to a report last month by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies' Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

Tensions have flared in the Spratlys this month over the continued presence of reported 200-plus Chinese vessels near the Beijing-controlled Whitsun Reef, amid complaints that China was turning it into another outpost, reported SCMP. (ANI)