Security experts believe China is pushing the region to the “brink of miscalculations” in the South China Sea with its expansive land reclamation in disputed territories as the Philippines anticipates more blockades by the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea once their facilities become fully operational next year.
“The bases are being constructed very fast, done rapidly, that it’s estimated that they would be operational by next year,” military historian Jose Antonio Custodio told the Inquirer in a recent interview.
Custodio said the airfields and naval facilities built by China on reclaimed land on the reefs and atolls along the so-called nine-dash line would allow them to execute more blockades against other claimants in the South China Sea.
Custodio said the Philippine military would have a more difficult time resupplying the Marine platoon posted at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal), which China also claims.
Chinese coast guard vessels drive away Philippine ships dispatched on resupply missions.
Last year, the Marines on the grounded ship BRP Sierra Madre, the Philippines’ symbol of ownership of the shoal, stayed at the garrison for nearly five months because the foreign vessels blocked the Philippine ships that attempted to resupply and rotate the troops.