China plans military base in disputed South China Sea islands

07 June 2014

China is going offensive, changing tack in its handling of the long-running dispute on the sovereignty over the Spartly Islands in the South China Sea, with plans to construct an artificial island with all supporting installations like air and sea ports.

China plans military base in disputed South China Sea islandsChina plans to create a military base in the Kalayaan Island Group, a report from South China Morning Post said on Saturday.

The military base will be built after the planned expansion of an artificial island located on the Fiery Cross Reef, which the Philippines calls Kagitingan Reef, according to the report.

The report quoted Chinese Naval Research Institute expert Li Jie as saying that the military base will feature an airstrip and a port as also a storage for military supplies.

The artificial island would be double the size of the US military base of Diego Garcia, a remote coral atoll occupying an area of 44 square km in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

''We had the ability to build artificial islands years ago, but we had refrained because we didn't want to cause too much controversy,'' said Zhang Jie, an expert on regional security with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China has already constructed an observation post on the reef, the report added.

The construction of a military base will give China a strategic outpost in the heart of disputed territories in the South China Sea, including the Spratlys and the KIG.

The planned expansion on the disputed Fiery Cross Reef, amid an ongoing tensions and a maritime territorial dispute with the Philippines, is a further indication that China intends to defy the jurisdiction of the international court over its festering dispute with smaller states in the region.

The Philippines had last month protested against China's reclamation activities at nearby Johnson South Reef and Philippines has moved the International Court of Justice in The Hague since.

The site was the scene of a 1988 skirmish between the Chinese and Vietnamese navies that was triggered by China's occupation of Fiery Cross Reef.

China has rejected the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague this week which asked China to submit evidence on its territorial claims in South China Sea (SCS) within six months for a procedural review of the suit filed by the Philippines.

The tribunal, set up under UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), has no jurisdiction over the territorial and maritime disputes in the region, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said.

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