Wednesday, March 4, 2015

China Building Large Airfield in the Spratly Islands-part of a big effort

Beijing's land reclamation programme on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea's Spratly Islands indicates that China is constructing an airfield,the state-run magazine China News Weekly said.The airfield will be a forward base for the PLA Navy and Air Force,the publication disclosed.Taiwan,the Philippines and Malaysia already have airstrips in the Spratlys,and Taiwan is building a seaport capable of handling warships.Many Southeast Asian nations have long been claiming sovereignty over the South China Sea area,which is believed to have deposits of oil and natural gas,as well as fishing opportunities,and have been working on development projects here and there.
China's swift and extensive development on several Spratly reefs recently,however,and even with a degree of standardisation evident,is ringing alarm bells in the Asia-Pacific region.China has been working on Gaven,Cuarteron,Eldad and Mischief Reefs.As well,a large facility is being developed on Johnson South Reef,and there is a big new facility on a 75,000 square meter reclamation project on Hughes Reef.China also built a helipad on Gaven Reef.
IHS Jane detects a standardised pattern in China's construction projects:a main square building with what are either anti-aircraft towers or radomes at each corner.Perhaps China's next step will be to set up air defence identification zones over and around these new facilities,requiring aircraft to identify themselves and file flight plans before proceeding through its perceived airspace.That's what China did over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in November 2013,causing an international uproar.The islands are also claimed by Japan.US Air Force B-52 bombers subsequently challenged China's assertion of sovereignty over them by flying through the zone without first seeking Beijing's permission.

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