Military Review

China can place new bases on an artificial island

Over the past years, China has pursued a policy aimed at creating powerful naval forces and expanding the country's presence in the Asia-Pacific region. The main means of implementing these plans is the construction of new warships. In addition, China is taking some economic and political measures. As the foreign press reports, at present, the Chinese military have launched an ambitious project that will allow them to significantly expand their presence in the disputed region - on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

China can place new bases on an artificial island
Bulk work in the Johnson Reef area
Photo: Philippine Department of Foreign / AP

In early June, the American edition of Bloomberg, citing the head of the Philippine municipality of Kalayan, Eugenio Bito-onon, reported that Chinese experts had begun to build artificial islands in the area of ​​the Spratly archipelago. A Philippine official expressed concern that the active and rapid construction carried out by China would allow him to control the entire South China Sea and nearby regions in the future. In addition, ongoing work will have serious political implications. The Spratly Islands are subject to much controversy. Six countries apply for these land sites and nearby water areas at once: China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. The emergence of new artificial islands belonging to China will certainly complicate the situation around the disputed archipelago.

According to some media reports, back in May, one of the leading organizations in Chinese shipbuilding published artificial island schemes. At the same time, it was explained that the construction of such a structure could be carried out even in the area of ​​the Spratly Islands. The proposed project interested the Chinese and foreign public, but soon all the published materials were deleted. The project organization declined to comment. It is known that according to the project, various infrastructure facilities should be located on an artificial island, including greenhouses and sports facilities. The most interesting part of the project was the airfield and seaport, which are also supposed to be built on the new island.

Immediately after the publication of the schemes of the artificial island, an opinion appeared that China intends to build at least one such structure in the area of ​​the Spratly archipelago and place a naval and aviation base. Naturally, official Beijing did not comment on these assumptions in any way and continues to adhere to the long-chosen non-disclosure strategy.

China could hide its works for a long time, however, the statements of the head of one of the municipalities of the Philippines interfered with it. Apparently, the Filipino military and security forces noticed the activity of Chinese ships with special equipment and made appropriate conclusions from this. In combination with previously published, but deleted information on the project of artificial islands, information on the start of construction can only speak of one thing - Chinese specialists have begun the active stage of work.

A little later, there were some details of a bold project. So, China intends to build an island and, possibly, military bases on it, in the Fayry Kross reef area, also known as Yunshu. Thus, new military bases may appear approximately 560 miles from the Chinese island of Hainan and 250 miles from the coast of Vietnam. It should be noted that this region of the South China Sea has been controlled since the end of the eighties. A radar station and a number of other equipment, as well as a garrison of 200 soldiers and officers, are located on one of the local islands. Since its inception, this small Chinese base has provoked Vietnam and other countries in the region to make unfriendly statements about Chinese policy.

An indirect confirmation of the fact that China is able to build an artificial island or several such facilities are several other projects. For example, near the island province of Hainan, the construction of an artificial island of Fenghuang, measuring 2008x1250 meters, has been underway since 350. It is supposed to build hotels, residential complexes and other objects of tourist infrastructure on this island. Shanghai's 2005 and the Yanshan deep-water port are connected by the Donghai Bridge, 32,5 km in length. The bridge is built on an artificial spit, stretching from the coast to the island with the port.

The cost and timing of the construction of the island in the Fayry Kross reef area for obvious reasons remains unknown. According to various estimates, the project cost may exceed 5-7 billions of US dollars, and the construction will take at least 8-10 years. With such serious investments, China will receive an island of up to several square kilometers. The size of the reclaimed island will allow it to accommodate the port and the airfield, as well as all the necessary infrastructure.

As follows from the available information, the construction of an artificial island near the Spratly archipelago pursues mainly military-political goals. Accommodation on the island of the sea and air base will increase the range of ships and aircraft of the Navy and Air Force. There is also a version according to which China wants to increase the area of ​​its territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone at the expense of the waters that are "formed" around the new island. However, this version is hardly true, since international law will not allow Beijing to claim the waters near an artificial island. According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, in their status, artificial islands and various structures (for example, oil platforms) differ from ordinary islands and cannot have their own territorial waters.

If the information available is true, by the middle of the next decade a new island will appear in the Spratly archipelago, fully occupied by Chinese military facilities. The bases of this island will allow Chinese aircraft and ships to control the entire water area of ​​the South China Sea and nearby regions. In addition, China will have the opportunity to go into the Indian Ocean and firmly establish itself in it. Simultaneously with the construction of the island and bases, China will develop its naval forces, which will lead to a corresponding change in the balance of forces in the region.

As far as we know, at the moment foreign countries have reacted to the new works of Chinese specialists with only a few condemning statements. At the same time, there is still no information about the symmetric or asymmetric actions of the states whose interests could be touched by the new Chinese island. Given the complexity of the situation in the region and the extreme difficulty of implementing similar projects, it can be said that China is guaranteed to become the leader in the region in the foreseeable future, and other countries, including those that claim to the Spratly Islands, will not be able to compete with it. Perhaps in order to avoid unpleasant consequences, the Vietnamese, Philippine, Malaysian, Taiwanese and Brunei governments will make some attempts to influence the situation by political means. However, official Beijing seems to have made a decision and does not intend to revise it.

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  1. The comment was deleted.
  2. Ghjynjyjoiiyr
    Ghjynjyjoiiyr 8 July 2014 11: 30
    It’s better that China occupies floating islands of Pacific islands drifting in the Pacific, according to some estimates, their area reaches the size of New Zealand!
  3. chunga-changa
    chunga-changa 8 July 2014 11: 33
    It would be like if Russia lathered up a naval base near Egypt. It's just enviable. The Chinese leadership, in addition to idle chatter on TV, still has the courage to actually send various "partners" with their opinions in a forest.
    1. sub307
      sub307 8 July 2014 15: 37
      In addition to "courage", they have the very "opportunity". Some have the "courage", but really do not have the "opportunity", and therefore quickly "blown away" and move on to periodic "notes", statements, excitements ... well, and other "paper tricks".
    2. The comment was deleted.
  4. ole_ga
    ole_ga 8 July 2014 11: 39
    Yeah, the island will be rather small, but what if the typhoon is concrete, or is it global warming with all the consequences? Although in any case, let these graters come away from our borders.
  5. ivmes
    ivmes 8 July 2014 11: 51
    Witty decision. Take care of your port with an airfield without any lease and the associated political costs and risks. I wonder how it is in terms of the international legal framework - if you pour your Maldives in neutral waters, then the state will recognize the water area?
    1. crambol
      crambol 8 July 2014 12: 16
      - No! Never!
      international law will not allow Beijing to claim water near an artificial island. According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, artificial islands and various structures (for example, oil platforms) differ in status from ordinary islands and cannot have their own territorial waters.
      1. Mama_Cholli
        Mama_Cholli 8 July 2014 19: 36
        Quote: crambol
        - No! Never!
        international law will not allow Beijing to claim water near an artificial island. According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, artificial islands and various structures (for example, oil platforms) differ in status from ordinary islands and cannot have their own territorial waters.

        If at the same time Comrade would be alive Stalin, then be sure and very fast .... Remember what the territorial waters of the Soviet Union were. (The northern border of the USSR is maritime. It crosses the Arctic Ocean to the pole approximately along the meridians of the extreme western and eastern points of the country's Arctic coast.)
  6. max702
    max702 8 July 2014 11: 55
    Well done !!! They work ...
  7. abrakadabre
    abrakadabre 8 July 2014 15: 41
    In addition, China will have the opportunity to enter the Indian Ocean and gain a foothold in it.
    This passage did not understand at all. How will the alluvium of this island help to enter the Indian Ocean ?! Or did I teach geography poorly at school?
    belay what
  8. MSA
    MSA 8 July 2014 16: 47
    Everything is possible with them, it's China.
  9. project sity
    project sity 8 July 2014 17: 25
    In addition, the size of the artificial island will deploy significant forces for the defense of the troops located on it. For example, batteries of long-range anti-aircraft missile systems (HQ-9 or even S-400), as well as heavy anti-ship missiles YJ-62.
    Here and the Chinese contingent appeared)) The expansion is good, and the West is not sideways
  10. project sity
    project sity 8 July 2014 17: 29
    The Chinese Generally well done! Their hands are not for boredom, with such overpopulation, artificially artificial islands will not hurt.
  11. Venier
    Venier 8 July 2014 20: 47
    China sets a good example, and we must keep up. Create our own floating base-fortresses and unhook the United States.
  12. mixailval
    mixailval 10 July 2014 05: 38
    We also would not hurt to wash the island next to the United States.