HONG KONG — President Trump railed against a lot of things in 2017. Chinese construction in the South China Sea was not really one of them, despite his campaign tough talk.
Focused on North Korea and evidently enamored of President Xi Jinping, the voluble U.S. president said relatively little as China continued to build on disputed islands, rocks and reefs.
A recent Chinese report hailed progress in the South China Sea last year, noting construction totaling 290,000 square meters, or 72 acres. That included work on hangars, missile shelters and large radar and sensor arrays, according to satellite images reviewed by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, a U.S. think tank.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea. In 2016, an international tribunal ruled against those claims, but the finding has largely been ignored — both by the Philippines, which brought the case, and by Beijing.