Satellite images captured by Taiwan indicate that Vietnam is pushing for land reclamation much harder than China in the disputed South China Sea, the Christian Science Monitor reported on Sept. 23.
Wang Cheng-gi from the Satellite Surveying Center of the Department of Land Administration under Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior, who is in charge of a US$3 million project to produce high-resolution satellite images of the disputed South China Sea, said he was surprised to find out that Vietnam is developing reefs and artificial islands in the disputed Spratlys. He also said that one Vietnamese landfill project spans 11 football fields.
“Everyone is talking about mainland China, but Vietnam is going all out,” Wang said.
The Spratly islands are variously claimed in whole or in part by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. Taiping, also referred to as Itu Aba, was the largest island in the group before the large scale land reclamation projects got underway and is the only island currently under Taiwan’s control. An armed conflict between Taipei and Hanoi could potentially take place in the future if Vietnam continues to expand its influence in the region.