Maginot Line in the South China Sea


The Maginot Line was a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles, and weapons installations that France constructed just before the border with Switzerland and the borders with Germany and Luxembourg during the 1930s.

A mature network of military facilities in the Spratlys, including an expanded Fiery Cross presence, would effectively extend China’s ability to project power by over 800 kilometers (500 miles), particularly through Chinese Coast Guard patrols in contested areas and potentially even air operations. Similar to its relative economic supremacy, China’s relative advantages in military size, modernization, and professionalism suggest that it is the only South China Sea claimant that is potentially capable of establishing de facto air and sea denial over tiny islet networks in a maritime setting as vast as the Spratly archipelago.

China’s German-built Tianjing Hao dredger is the largest of its type in Asia and China’s primary weapon in island-building, cost approximately $130 million to build. China may invest over $5 billion over ten years on reclamation in Johnson South Reef; the Philippines’ 2014 military budget is less than $2 billion.

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