China has claimed “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratly Islands. Even though the U.S. has urged China to halt land reclamation and militarization of the disputed South China Sea, Beijing has maintained its assertive posture in the disputed waters. Now satellite images taken last week shows that Beijing is building a third airstrip in the Spratly archipelago.
The new airstrip could accommodate most Chinese fighter jets
Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said the satellite photographs show an extensive construction of Mischief Reef. Greg Poling, director of CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), said the images show a rectangular area with a retaining wall. It is about 3,000 meters long and resembles construction on Subi and Fiery Cross reefs in the disputed waters.
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This is going to be a 3,000 meters long airstrip. China is also carrying out some more work to build port facilities for ships, reports Reuters. American security experts said, once completed, the airstrip would be long enough to accommodate most of China’s military jets. The report of building a new airstrip comes just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit the United States.
Vietnam, Japan sign security deal to counter China
A spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department said China should halt the construction of artificial islands and land reclamation activities in the disputed waters “to ease tensions and create space for diplomatic solutions.” China’s assertive posture will not ease tensions or lead to a diplomatic solution. The three airstrips will allow China to threaten air traffic over the disputed islands.
Amid China’s land reclamation activities, Vietnam and Japan have agreed to boost security cooperation. Earlier this year, Japan reached similar agreements with the Philippines and Malaysia to bolster security ties. China started building artificial islands in the hotly contested South China Sea last year. Beijing has overlapping territorial claims with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea. It is embroiled in a row with Tokyo over a group of islands in the East China Sea.