China is now building factories and what appears to be a runway for the takeoff and landing of military jets on disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Some of the islands are mapped, some are not. The latter are man-made islands which China has been busy creating from dredged up rock and sand dumped atop reefs to form new islands; islands China can then improve upon with factories, sea walls, and even “an airbase.”
BBC News reports that the airbase will technically give China “an unsinkable aircraft carrier, right in the middle of the South China Sea.” And this all comes in the short time since “the Communist Party reclassified the South China Sea as a ‘core national interest'” in 2012.
On August 30 Breitbart News reported that China was reclaiming islands in Philippines’ Kalayaan Island Group (KIG). These islands include Mabini (Johnson South) Reef, “Burgos (Gaven) Reef, Kennan (Chigua) Reef, and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reef.”
By that time The Philippine Star reported that China had “fully reclaimed” the Mabini Reef and “construction equipment and materials” were visible on other reefs for whatever China planned next. Now the BBC News report shows China is advancing with the next stage of plans, leaving the Philippines little they can do in response, aside from plead their case to the United Nations.
After all, “the Philippine air force has no fighter jets” and their “navy has just two elderly frigates.” So surviving a head-to-head confrontation with China is out of the question.
China’s territorial claims in the East China Sea jilted Japan in a similar way in 2013, especially after China declared “a new airspace defense zone” over the Senkaku Islands. But in the summer of 2014 Japan responded by reinterpreting its constitution to allow collective self-defense–signally that Japan has no intention of sitting idly by.
In November 2013 Reuters reported that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made clear the U.S. would stand with Japan in defense of the islands.
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