May 8 (Reuters) – Newly released images show Vietnam has carried out significant land reclamation at two sites in the disputed South China Sea, though the scale and pace is dwarfed by that of China, a U.S. research institute said.
In response, China condemned Vietnam’s actions, and said its work in the region was part of an obligation to the international community to improve navigation safety and contribute to science and research, including building observation platforms to monitor sea levels.
Satellite images shared with Reuters by Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), show an expansion of the land area of Vietnamese-controlled Sand Cay and West London Reef in the Spratly archipelago and the addition of buildings.
Mira Rapp-Hooper, director of CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (amti.csis.org/), said the work included military installations and appeared to have started before China began a flurry of reclamation projects last year.
The photographs were taken by satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe between 2010 and April 30 this year.