China building possible airfield in South China Sea: US


WASHINGTON: China is building a massive island in the South China Sea that could host an airfield in an area where Beijing is locked in bitter territorial disputes with neighbouring states, a US military spokesman said on Friday (Nov 21).

The vast land reclamation project on the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands is one of several pursued by China but the first that could accommodate an airstrip, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Pool said. “It appears that’s what they’re working toward,” Pool told AFP. A harbour also has been dug out on the east side of the reef that appears large enough for tankers and naval warships.

The United States wants China to halt the project and for other governments to cease similar efforts. “We urge China to stop its land reclamation program, and engage in diplomatic initiatives to encourage all sides to restrain themselves in these sorts of activities,” Pool said.

In the past three months, China has used dredgers to construct an island about 3,000 metre long and 200-300 metre wide on the reef, which was previously under water, according to a report by IHS Jane’s Defence.

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