On January 8, the Philippine news outlet Rappler quoted an informed defense source as saying that China is likely to finish constructing its second airstrip in the South China Sea by the end of 2015. Separately, the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, General Gregorio Catapang Jr., also revealed that Beijing was about halfway done with its land reclamation activities on Fiery Cross Reef where the anticipated airstrip is likely to be built.
Satellite images released in November 2014 already indicated that Chinese dredgers had been reclaiming land on Fiery Cross Reef since August to create a land mass large enough for a 3 km long airstrip, which would be its second in the South China Sea after its airstrip in Woody Island in the Paracel Islands (Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have their own airstrips). But these latest reports suggest that China is quite far along in its land reclamation and airstrip construction. Those reclamation activities, along with having two airstrips — one in the Paracels and one in the Spratlys — could significantly boost Beijing’s position in the South China Sea with implications for other claimants and interested parties.