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Thread: Growing tension over the Senkaku islands

  1. #101
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    Default Re: Growing tension over the Senkaku islands

    China Said to Turn Reef Into Airstrip in Disputed Water

    World | Jane Perlez, The New York Times | Updated: November 24, 2014 08:47 IST
    Chinese fishing vessels anchored at Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan) on the disputed Spratly islands (AFP Photo)








    Beijing: A major reclamation project by the Chinese government on a tiny reef 500 miles from the mainland would enable China to land military aircraft there, expanding its reach into the contested South China Sea, analysts have said.

    The analysts' report came as a group affiliated with the People's Liberation Army hosted an international conference in Beijing on Friday and Saturday intended to showcase President Xi Jinping's call for a new regional security architecture based on the concept of Asia for Asians, an idea that minimizes the role of the United States.

    "Asian countries bear primary responsibility for the security of their region," China's vice foreign minister, Liu Zhenmin, said at the Xiangshan Forum held Friday and Saturday by the China Association for Military Science.

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    New satellite imagery reported by IHS Jane's Defence on Thursday showed construction of an island about 9,850 feet long and 985 feet wide at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands. The new island would be capable of supporting a runway and apron, the security group said.

    Dredgers were also creating a harbor that would be large enough to dock warships, Jane's said in its report.

    China has been expanding its footprint in the Spratly archipelago for much of this year by moving sand onto reefs and shoals and creating at least three new islands that could serve as bases for Chinese surveillance and as resupply stations for navy vessels, according to Jane's.

    But the report said the dredging operations at Fiery Cross were by far the largest, and were intended to coerce other claimant countries in the archipelago, which include Vietnam and the Philippines, to eventually relinquish their possessions.

    In the Beijing forum's keynote address, China's defense minister, Gen. Chang Wanquan, who rarely speaks in public, said China wanted countries to "transcend Cold War thinking," a reference to the U.S. alliances in the Asia-Pacific region that China contends are used as a containment strategy.

    Chang's speech did not entirely exclude the United States. In recognition of the recent accord between Xi and President Barack Obama for increased consultation between the U.S. and Chinese militaries, he said China wanted to strengthen procedures for coping with crises.

    The participants included Western security experts and some defense attachés, including from the United States, but top officials from the Obama administration declined invitations to attend.

    In an address to the forum, Gary Roughead, a retired admiral and former U.S. chief of naval operations, pointedly asked China to clarify its claims in the South China Sea, and to ensure that the claims were compatible with international laws allowing freedom of navigation.

    China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest trading routes, based on a line drawn after World War II that covers waters south of China, around Malaysia, and north to the Philippines. Other countries do not recognize the U-shaped line, which encompasses the Spratlys and Fiery Cross Reef.

    The plans for an airstrip at Fiery Cross Reef were most likely intended for China to land military aircraft that could monitor an air defense identification zone, known as an ADIZ, that China appears likely to create in the future, said Bonnie S. Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    Countries establish such zones to identify, monitor and possibly take military action against aircraft entering the designated area.

    "I think it is to allow China to establish an ADIZ," said Glaser, who attended the Xiangshan Forum. "To have an ADIZ they have to have the capability to monitor the air space. They may need even more than one airstrip to do it."

    Last November, China unilaterally announced such a zone over a vast area of the East China Sea, including the airspace over islands that are at the center of a dispute with Japan.

    Western officials have debated whether China would soon make a similar announcement concerning the South China Sea.

    Most analysts agree that China is unlikely to do so in the immediate future. But they say China is making preparations - like expanding tiny reefs into islands that can support large buildings and surveillance equipment - for the time when its navy and air force have the capacity to enforce an air identification zone far afield from the mainland.

    To try to stop China from continuing its land reclamation in the Spratlys, the Obama administration suggested this year that all countries with claims in the South China Sea freeze their building on disputed islands.

    China rejected the idea. The construction at Fiery Cross Reef was an example of Chinese defiance ofthe U.S. freeze proposal, Glaser said.

    The Spratlys comprise hundreds of reefs, rocks, sandbars and tiny atolls spread over 160,000 square miles, in an area that is closer to the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia than China.

    Jane's said there was little doubt about the reason for the work at Fiery Cross. "Given its massive military advantage over other claimants in terms of quantity and quality of materiel, this facility appears purpose-built to coerce other claimants into relinquishing their claims and possessions," the report said, "or at least provide China with a much stronger negotiating position if talks over the dispute were ever held."
    © 2014, The New York Times News Service

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  2. #102
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    Default Re: Growing tension over the Senkaku islands

    China building airstrip-capable island on Fiery Cross Reef

    James Hardy, London and Sean O'Connor, Indiana - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
    20 November 2014

    Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 14 November 2014 shows Chinese land reclamation operations under way at Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea. Multiple operating dredgers provide the ability to generate terrain rapidly. Operating from a harbour area, dredgers deliver sediment via a network of piping. (© CNES 2014, Distribution Airbus DS / Spot Image / IHS)

    Key Points

    • China is reclaiming land at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands, according to satellite imagery
    • The reclamation, which started in August, is creating a land mass large enough for a 3,000 m-long airstrip

    China is building an island at least 3,000 m long on Fiery Cross Reef that could be the site for its first airstrip in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
    Satellite imagery of the island taken on 8 August and 14 November shows that in the past three months Chinese dredgers have created a land mass that is almost the entire length of the reef.
    Fiery Cross Reef lies to the west of the main Spratly island archipelago and was previously under water; the only habitable area was a concrete platform built and maintained by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
    The new island is more than 3,000 m long and between 200 and 300 m wide: large enough to construct a runway and apron. The dredgers are also creating a harbour to the east of the reef that would appear to be large enough to receive tankers and major surface combatants.
    The existing structure on the reef's southwestern edge was home to a PLAN garrison and had a pier, air-defence guns, anti-frogmen defences, communications equipment, and a greenhouse. The concrete structure is currently not attached to the new island, but if previous Chinese land reclamation projects in the Spratlys are any guide, it is only a matter of time before it is joined up.
    The Spratly Islands are claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. All but Brunei occupy islands or have built structures on reefs and shoals to assert their claims.
    The land reclamation at Fiery Cross is the fourth such project undertaken by China in the Spratly Islands in the last 12-18 months and by far the largest in scope. China has built new islands at Johnson South Reef, Cuateron Reef, and Gaven Reefs, but none are large enough to house an airstrip in their current form.
    Ship tracking data from IHS Maritime shows substantial activity at the reef since May 2014. Analysts drew attention to two ships in particular: Jin Hang Jun 406 , a grab dredger that is fixed on a pontoon, and 3,086-tonne cutter suction dredger Xin Hai Tun . Both have been instrumental in dredging and cutting channels into the new harbour basin.
    ANALYSIS

    IHS Jane's previously reported on China's reclamation project in the Spratlys and noted that until recently Fiery Cross appeared to be acting as a staging post for other island building projects. Given its status as the largest PLAN facility in the Spratlys, this seemed to be an anomaly, something that the 14 November imagery has now corrected.
    China has been at a distinct disadvantage compared with other claimants in the Spratly Islands as it is the only claimant not to occupy an island with an airfield. Taiwan has Itu Aba (Taiping) island, the Philippines has Pagasa island, Malaysia has Swallow Reef (a reef on which it reclaimed land and built an airstrip), and Vietnam has Southwest Cay.
    The work at Fiery Cross thus brings parity but is likely to cause alarm among the other claimants. China has previously shown it is willing to spend blood and treasure to assert its territorial claims in this region. Given its massive military advantage over the other claimants in terms of quantity and quality of materiel, this facility appears purpose-built to coerce other claimants into relinquishing their claims and possessions, or at least provide China with a much stronger negotiating position if talks over the dispute were ever held.
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    Default Re: Growing tension over the Senkaku islands

    Why is China building an artificial island large enough for an airfield in disputed south sea waters?

    • Chinese officials have created a 3,000m-long reef in the Spratly Islands
    • Archipelago has been source of dispute between south Asian countries
    • Vietnamese, Malaysian and Filipino forces all have airfields in the water
    • The developing Fiery Cross Reef may become China's first airbase
    • Air force colonel said the military needed facilities in South China Sea

    By Jennifer Smith for MailOnline
    Published: 13:53 EST, 23 November 2014 | Updated: 03:21 EST, 24 November 2014


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    Chinese officials are building the first island large enough for its own airfield in the middle of disputed waters in the south sea.
    Satellite images revealed that since reclaiming the Spratly Islands in August, workers have expanded one stretch of sand to make it long enough for aircraft to land and take off.
    Dredgers are also creating a harbour to the east of the reef large enough to receive tankers and warships.
    The 3,000m patch Fiery Cross Reef forms part of the archipelago which has been at the heart of territorial disputes for years.
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    Satellite images show that since reclaiming the Spratly Islands in August, workers have expanded one stretch of sand to make it long enough for aircraft to land and take off

    While the islands, named after the British sailor Richard Spratly who discovered them in 1843, lie between the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, they are host to a plethora of military machinery and resources owned by the Republic of China.
    Fears that China intended to use the archipelago as a mineral-rich installation of military bases spread when officials began reclaiming the abandoned islands in August.
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    While the Chinese army controls many of the 750 islets and reefs, it does not yet have its own airfield in the south China sea unlike Malaysian, Vietnamese and Filipino forces.
    According to imagery obtained by the Hong Kong defence publication IHS, dredging has begun on Fiery Cross Reef to create a harbour large enough for military tankers.

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    China has used dredgers to construct an island about 3000 metres long and 200 to 300 metres wide on the reef, which was previously under water


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    Workers had built a reinforced seawall around an island on Johnson South Reef in the Spratly Islands by August (pictured)


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    This satellite image released in April 2014 showed substantial land reclamation, harbour redevelopment, and additional construction activity on Woody Island since October 2013

    Johnson South Reef, Cuateron Reef, and Gaven Reefs have all been expanded on since Chinese officials reclaimed the waters earlier this year, though the Fiery Cross Reef is the only island large enough for an airfield.
    Jin Zhirui, a colonel with the Chinese air force command, declined to confirm plans to build an airfield on the reef but said China needed to build facilities in the South China Sea for strategic reasons.
    'We need to go out, to make our contribution to regional and global peace.
    'We need support like this, including radar and intelligence.'
    'China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Island'






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    Chinese fishing vessels anchored at Fiery Cross Reef on the disputed Spratly islands where China is thought to be building a massive island


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    An aerial photograph taken in 1999 shows Chinese workers building on sparse land in the Spratly Islands

    THE SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE OVER ARCHIPELAGO DISCOVERED BY BRITISH SAILOR CAPTAIN RICHARD SPRATLY

    The dispute centres around hundreds of tiny shoals, reefs and islets in the South China Sea known as the Spratlys and the Paracels.
    Several south Asian countries stake claim to the territory, though China tries to control the largest portion of the archipelago.
    Beijing has claimed its right to the collection of land masses is 2,000 years old which, they say, includes the islands in Chinese history.
    Taiwan supports its claim, and has its own airfield on the island of Taiping.
    Vietnamese officials say their government has ruled over the land since the 17th century whilst the Philippines, the closest geographically, says the islands belong to them.
    In 1974, Chinese forces seized the Paracels from Vietnam, killing 70 troops.
    There were further clashes between the two countries in 1988, with 60 Vietnamese soldiers killed.
    In 2012 China and the Philippines were embroiled in a lengthy maritime standoff over a Scarborough Shoal.
    The Filipino military employed its largest warship for the dispute over the stretch of water which they call Panatag.
    Upon boarding a Chinese military vessel for inspection, officials claimed they found live sharks, clams and illegal reef.
    Later, Vietnamese border agencies refused to stamp passports asserting Chinese sovereignty over a handful of the islands and in January it was claimed China would be taken to a UN tribunal to challenge its stake.

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    Default Re: Growing tension over the Senkaku islands

    China snubs US call to stop island project in South China Sea

    Monday, 24 November 2014 - 6:20pm IST | Place: Beijing | Agency: Reuters












    China on Monday hit back at "irresponsible remarks" from the United States which has called on Beijing to stop a land reclamation project in the disputed South China Sea that could be large enough to accommodate an airstrip.
    China lays claim to almost all of the entire South China Sea, believed to be rich with minerals and oil-and-gas deposits and one of Asia's biggest possible flashpoints. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims.
    The comments by China's foreign ministry signal that Beijing would firmly reject proposals by any country to freeze any activity that may raise tension. Media reports over the weekend cited U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Pool as urging China "to stop its land reclamation programme and engage in diplomatic initiatives to encourage all sides to restrain themselves in these sorts of activities".
    China reiterated that Beijing had "indisputable sovereignty" over the Spratly Islands, where most of the overlapping claims lie, especially between China and the Philippines. "I think anyone in the outside world has no right to make irresponsible remarks on China-related activities," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.
    "The construction-related activities undertaken by China on the islands are primarily to improve the living conditions of personnel stationed there and to better fulfil our international responsibilities and obligations in terms of search and rescue and the provision of public services." A leading defence publication said on Friday that satellite images showed China was building an island on a reef in the Spratly Islands large enough to accommodate what could be its first offshore airstrip in the South China Sea.
    The construction has stoked concern that China may be converting disputed territory in the archipelago into military installations. "Vietnam and the Philippines should get used to China's island-construction in the South China Sea," said the Global Times, a nationalist tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, in an editorial.
    "We hope that the U.S. can also get used to China's more frequent presence in the seas." A Philippine court on Monday fined nine Chinese fishermen $102,000 each for poaching after they were caught with hundreds of sea turtles in a disputed shoal in the Spratlys.
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  5. #105
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    Default Re: Growing tension over the Senkaku islands

    I hope their environmental impact study said this was a sustainable project.

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