Island-building Inflames China-Philippines Dispute

Mabini Reef 2014
Earlier this year the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs released a series of photographs, which it said shows stages of China’s “reclamation” of land on Mabini Reef, also called Johnson South Reef, in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea. Photo provided by Philippines government.

Pursuit of Beijing’s claim to the South China Sea is a major element in the drive by China’s Communist Party boss Xi Jinping to convince the population that the country is re-emerging as the world’s pre-eminent power, writes International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe.. “The prospects are not good.”

An excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column, China manufactures islands to back its sovereignty claims:

Not content with stealing other people’s territory, the Beijing government is now manufacturing islands to boost its insubstantial claim to ownership of the South China Sea.

The Philippines government has released aerial photographs of Chinese dredgers and construction teams pulling up millions of tonnes of sand and rock from the ocean floor to create islands on Johnson South Reef, which is claimed by the Manila government.

The new island is one of several being created by Beijing, and is within Manila’s 200 nautical mile “exclusive economic zone,” but about 800 kilometres from the nearest undisputed Chinese territory at Hainan Island.

China’s island manufacturing industry, using reefs and islets as bases on which to create territory, is the latest in a vigorous policy of territorial expansion being pursued by the new Beijing administration of President and Communist Party boss Xi Jinping. Since Xi came to power in late 2012, Beijing has been pushing an evermore aggressive and assertive policy over territorial disputes with its neighbours. In the East China Sea this has seen almost daily confrontations with the Japanese Coast Guards and Air Force around and over the Japanese-owned Senkaku Islands, which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands. …. read China manufactures islands to back its sovereignty claims. (Log in first; subscription or day pass* required)

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