Chinese Ambition in South China Sea
As China and other South China Sea claimant states bicker, the waters that are a conduit for energy supplies to Asia and carry about half the world’s merchant tonnage — $5.3 trillion in goods each year — are increasingly tense.[…]OK
For the people who live and work in the waters the risk of a mishap is real, and China — the Philippines’ second-biggest trading partner — is seen as unstoppable despite the efforts of other countries’ militaries. With a string of reefs on which to base its military it will have the potential to better control shipping lanes, fishing grounds and unproven energy reserves, and cause environmental damage to a sea that’s famous for its pristine diving waters.
China has accelerated its reclamation, dumping sand to build airstrips on tiny rocks that may otherwise be submerged at high tide. It has built 1,500 acres of a total of 2,000 acres of land since December. Whatever the legal reality, China is building a case that these are now islands with structures, implying ownership.
China argues the reefs are within its sovereign terrain, and construction is needed to ensure navigational safety. It has said the reefs will be used for military as well as civilian purposes such as marine scientific research.
“China’s lawful, justified and reasonable construction on some garrisoned Nansha islands and reefs is well within China’s sovereignty,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said July 3, using China’s name for the disputed Spratlys.