Satellite images suggest Chinese airstrip plans in South China Sea
Washington : Satellite goes up, and bytes of images come down. This time, Satellite images analyzed from Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) caught activity in South China Seaways and presented an image suggesting work in progress in disputed waters.
The images taken barely a few days ago raises American eyebrow as China had pledged to bring land reclamation in those waters to a halt. This image data comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington next week and suggests moments of discomfort in the talks.
Director of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative Greg Poling said that China had reclaimed a flat rectangle of land with a retaining wall about 3,000 meters (3,280 yards) in length on Mischief Reef. It looked similar to airstrips that China had been building on artificial islands at the Fiery Cross and Subi reefs in the contested Spratly Islands. If it DOES turn out to be a runway, then China would have three airstrips that can carry any plane which PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has to offer. All of these places have gone from being outposts on stilts to full islands, potentially with airstrips, within the space of a year or just over a year, he added.
South China Sea is in the centre of a never ending territorial claims dispute as countries like China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have been relentlessly disputing sovereignty of several island chains and nearby waters.