The coral reefs on which China is building airstrips are “not just a bunch of rocks, ”but the transit point for about half of the world’s maritime containerized cargo,” Michael Green, vice president for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Monday.
Speaking as part of a panel discussion on China’s growing maritime influence at the Washington, D.C., think-tank, he added those reclamation projects allow Beijing to “maintain a constant presence” with a growing number of aircraft and ships that “you have to deal with . . . in U.S. planning and [are] intimidating smaller states,” such as the Philippines and Vietnam.
Like Russia in Ukraine and with its neighbors and Iran in the Middle East, China was establishing “a gray zone of coercion,” Green added, designed to “shake the credibility of the U.S. commitment” to the Pacific among its allies and partners.