The Pentagon has laid down a fresh marker against China’s worrisome land reclamation effort in the South China Sea. In a congressionally mandated report published last week, the Defense Department outlined a strategy for maritime security in the Asia-Pacific that attempts to counter China’s provocative behavior. The real tests will come later, but they are clearly coming.
In the spring, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, expressed alarm China was building artificial land by pumping sand onto live coral reefs and paving over it with concrete. Adm. Harris said China had created about 900 acres of artificial landmass, a “great wall of sand.”
Now the Pentagon has provided stark new details. Since land reclamation got underway in December, 2013, China has expanded seven of its eight outposts in the Spratly Islands, and as of this June, had reclaimed “more than 2,900 acres of land.”
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