Building artificial islands – China’s plot of changing status quo to bolster its claim in South China Sea (Part II and end)

14/09/2014


The true intentions
Chinese actions rarely are so straight-forward and simplistic, and usually involve a multitude of well-calculated backup plans, all pushing forward simultaneously. One such plan involves the newly-created islands acting to enhance China’s military presence in the South China Sea.
Critics say the islands will allow China to install better surveillance technology and resupply stations for government vessels. Some analysts say the Chinese military is eyeing a perch in the Spratlys as part of a long-term strategy of power projection across the Western Pacific.
Perhaps just as important, the new islands could allow China to claim it has an exclusive economic zone within 200 nautical miles of each island, which is defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Philippines has argued at an international tribunal that China occupies only rocks and reefs and not true islands that qualify for economic zones.
“By creating the appearance of an island, China may be seeking to strengthen the merits of its claims,” said M. Taylor Fravel, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Officials say Johnson South Reef, which China seized in 1988 after killing about 70 Vietnamese soldiers or sailors in a skirmish, is the most developed of the islands so far. “It’s Johnson Island now; it’s not Johnson Reef anymore,” the Western official said.
When asked about the BBC report, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying reiterated China’s position that “China’s activities on relevant islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands fall entirely within China’s sovereignty and are totally justifiable.” When pressed on the purpose of the construction, Hua said that the work was “mainly for the purpose of improving the working and living conditions of people stationed on these islands.”
The island-building has alarmed Vietnam, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations that also claim sovereignty over the Spratlys. They calls such actions provocative, a unilateral attempt to change the status quo. The construction causes changes in the status quo of the region and makes the worries of China’s rise more apparent.
Le Hai Binh, a spokesman for the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry, said in an email statement that Vietnam had sovereignty over the entire Spratly archipelago and that “China has been illegally implementing activities of expansion and construction” around Johnson Reef and other sites claimed by Vietnam.
He said Vietnam demanded that China “immediately stop illegal activities of expansion and construction” on the reef and “withdraw its vessels and facilities from the area.”
“None of this is an isolated incident,” he said. “It seems to be a new plan to assert Chinese sovereignty. This isn’t something that will go away. This is a constant thing that will raise tensions, and at the same time no one has a good response to it.”
China’s plan will also be conducive to its intention to become a naval superpower. Beijing is showing off not only the military capability of PLA but also China’s new generation of modern submersible oil rigs (HYSY 981, under-construction HYSY 982, HYSY 943 and HYSY 944), capable of drilling in most parts of the SCS. There is a possibility that China might adopt an “oil rig salami slicing” strategy: to gradually send oil rigs southward from the Paracels into the waters surrounding Spratly Islands. The construction of airstrips and sea ports in the South Chia Sea, along with more aircraft carriers (China is also building another aircraft carrier, estimated to be completed by 2018) will ensure that in case China sends oil rigs into the region, none of the other SCS claimant states dare to militarily stand against Beijing’s action. Therefore, China can carry out its plan to extract resources in the Spratlys with confidence.
From the analysis above, it is obvious that the construction of airstrips and sea ports in this archipelago may give China significant advantages in any SCS dispute. However, it will also be a sign of Beijing violating the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS (DOC) and trying to change the status quo of the SCS in its favor. Over the past few years, China has made many efforts to persuade the world of its peaceful rise. Yet, on the contrary, Beijing’s actions are seen by its neighbor and the international community as provocative and threatening towards regional peace and stability. Beijing’s message of peaceful rise should be proven in words and deeds accordingly.
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All comments [ 10 ]


Hoàng Lân 14/9/14 22:40

China has begun reclaiming land around Johnson Reef to build an airstrip in the disputed Spratly Islands of the South China Sea.

Quân Hoàng 14/9/14 22:43

The issue is a complex skein of international law, as China claims all of both the Spratly and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea as well as their adjacent waters.

Lê Tín 14/9/14 22:44

China has begun building a school on a remote island in the South China Sea to serve the children of military personnel and others.

Quốc Kiên 14/9/14 22:47

It is in the world's interest to support a diplomatic solution to the problem, which, if successful, could provide a template for other disputed maritime disputes.

Hùng Quân 14/9/14 22:48

the Chinese military is eyeing a perch in the Spratlys as part of a long-term strategy of power projection across the Western Pacific.

Phạm Hiếu 14/9/14 22:50

China's announced building plans have agitated the Philippines, which currently controls Pag-asa Island, one of the biggest in the area, as well as Vietnam, which lays claim to the Paracels.

Vân Nhàn 14/9/14 22:52

China seized control of Mischief Reef from Philippine forces. Soon thereafter, China built structures resembling military installations on the reef.

Quốc Cường 14/9/14 22:53

By creating the appearance of an island, China may be seeking to strengthen the merits of its claims. That's dangerous!

Huy Quốc 14/9/14 22:55

China can build whatever it wants on its islands in the South China Sea, a senior Chinese official said, so ignorant!

Huy Lâm 14/9/14 22:57

China has been illegally implementing activities of expansion and construction.

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