China’s Airstrip Plan may up Tension

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  • China may be building a military base in the disputed Spratly Islands in South China Sea, believe Asian military experts.
  • The belief is buttressed by leading defence publication .
  • IHS Jane's showing satellite images that reveal China is building an island on a reef in the Spratly Islands with the possible aim of turning it into an airstrip.
  • The new island is large and the first of its kind in the South China Sea
  • The move suggests Beijing may be converting the mineral rich archipelago, claimed by Vietnam and other countries, into military installations.
  • The new construction on reclaimed land might also add to tension over the area, which is also claimed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei.
  • It also challenges Washington's calls for a freeze in provocative activity in the South China Sea, which is one of the most intense security problem in Asia.
  • The images showed the Chinese-built island on the Fiery Cross Reef to be at least 3,000m long and 200-300m wide
  • HIS Jane's noted: large enough to construct a runway and apron.
  • Dredgers were also creating a harbor to the east of the reef that would appear to be large enough to receive tankers and major surface combatants
  • A Chinese military official defended similar military company construction but did not confirm this particular development in the South China Sea.
  • Jin Zhirui, a colonel with the Chinese air force command said :We need to go out, to make our contribution to regional and global peace.
  • This is the four land reclamation project taken up by China in the Spratly Islands in the last 12 to 18 months and by far the largest