China has created military facilities about four times the size of Buckingham palace on contested islands in the South China Sea, a new report has said, calling the build-up a “slow-moving crisis” in one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.
China built about 29 hectares (290,000 square metres) of new facilities on contested islands in 2017, including munitions depots, sensor arrays, radar systems and missile shelters, according to an analysis by US thinktank the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The South China Sea is dotted with small reefs and islands, and parts of it are claimed by a host of south-east Asian neighbours.
China claims nearly the entire sea and has artificially increased the size of some islands and deployed fighter jets to bolster its claims, with the islands frequently described as “unsinkable aircraft carriers”. Beijing has reclaimed 1,280 hectares of land in just one area, according to the US department of defence.