Is China preparing 2nd airstrip?

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BEIJING: China could be preparing to build a second 3,000-metre airstrip on an artificial island in the disputed West Philippine (South China) Sea, a Washington-based think-tank said.

China is already building a 3,000-metre (9,842 feet) runway on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, the longest in the area, which could ultimately be used for combat operations, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Airstrip building in the Kalayaan (Spratly) islands goes back nearly 40 years and four other claimants already have such facilities, according to CSIS’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

But China has been accused of seeking to advance its sovereignty claims with its land reclamation program and tensions have been rising in the West Philippine Sea.


The website said China’s airstrip on Kagitingan Reef, around 1,000 kilometers from the island province of Hainan just off the Chinese mainland, is in the “advanced stages” of construction, which began last year.

Satellite photos of another reef, Zamora (Subi), where nearly four million square meters of land have been reclaimed, indicate Beijing may be getting ready to build another strip of similar length there, it added.

“A Chinese airbase at Fiery Cross Reef would allow for much-improved situational awareness,” the website said, adding it could let China deploy maritime surveillance aircraft and fighter squadrons in the area.

“China may be more readily able to use the airbase for patrols or limited offensive operations against other South China Sea claimants, or even United States assets,” it added.

Taiwan is currently upgrading its 1,195 meter airstrip on Itu Aba island, CSIS said.
According to the website, Malaysia has the second-longest runway in the area on Celerio (Swallow) Reef at 1,368 meters. The Philippines’ strip is slightly shorter but with an “extremely worn” dirt surface.

AFP

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3 Comments

  1. Arch. Lito L.Mallonga on

    I have read so many times about this all and do you think
    China will get out. Too much money has been involved on
    their side . Read as well that all the ASEAN countries should
    join together to make sure China might set back, In case
    even one does not join then it will not work like CAMBODIA
    as this country we all know has help Cambodia up to this time
    both Militarily and Financially.

    But I am sure there is a way that all will agree including China
    if we have a truly elected President that knows how to do it.
    Someone who is as good or better than our most respected
    President the late RAMON MAGSAYSAY. The very first one
    a country needs by other countries to look upon is its leader
    anyways. But do we have one right now who has that qualification
    to lead as now. That I challege all those candidates running for
    President next year . HALOS LAHAT MAY BAHID.

  2. We must abandon any claims in the WPS. China’s claim cannot be disputed by word or war. A bilateral talk can save faces for all. When China completed militarization of WPS, the US and rest of the world will just watch, open their mouth and sit back.

  3. Antonio Ferrer on

    Just imagine the Philippines has been there for so many years and has not made any improvements or repairs o
    n the island. The government could have used the PDAP or the senators and congressmen half of their allocations,and use the other half worth billions in peso for the improvements. Officials tends to enrich themselves first before anything else, now that the country’ presidential election. 2016 is just around the corner.