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China may be building airstrip on Subi Reef

China appears to be building an airstrip on Zamora (Subi) Reef in the Spratlys archipelago, boosting notions that the Asian superpower is conducting reclamation in disputed areas to display its military might. In a span of ten weeks, China has built an island compatible with an airstrip over Zamora Reef, according to a report published by online magazine The Diplomat over the weekend. “The dimensions and shape of the landfill, which is still underway, are compatible with a potential airstrip 3,300 meters long,” The Diplomat reported. The dimensions of the landfill, the report added, are similar to the prospective length of the runway being paved on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, the site of another Chinese construction project. “Military analysts have observed that a runway 3,300 meters long could support virtually all types of combat and supply aircraft in China’s navy and air force,” the report read. The Diplomat article said the speed, scale, intensity and remoteness of China’s ongoing manufacture of land and infrastructure within the West Philippine Sea “have few or no parallels in history outside of wartime.” Satellite images The Diplomat also published satellite images showing China’s fast-paced construction activities in disputed areas. The photos were taken April 17, just three days before the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted that the country is in a “very difficult position” because of China’s reclamation projects. The Diplomat report noted that only two small sites of dredging and landfill activity were detectable at Zamora (Subi) Reef on Feb. 6. “As of April 17, 2015, the landfill of Subi measured 2.27 square kilometers in area, on a par with the rapidly manufactured island at Fiery Cross Reef, recently assessed as 2.65 square kilometers in area.” A “sizable new port” and runway or taxiway are also being constructed in Kagitingan Reef. While there are no such naval facilities in Zamora, China is reportedly expanding a channel on the reef’s south rim. “The near-complete enclosure formed by the natural reef provides a protective harbor in its own right. In addition, extensive ongoing landfill at the southern extremity of Subi could be purposed for marine docks,” the report added. The online article said Panganiban (Mischief) Reef has been filled with sand and coral cuttings to an area of about 2.42 square kilometers as of April 13. There was virtually no above-water terrain in the area a few months ago. The report said China is also expanding its landfill across the northern rim of Panganiban Reef along a relatively straight portion of the submerged reef. The dimensions are believed to be capable of supporting a landing strip longer than 3,000 meters. A large part of the reef’s southwest rim was completely filled in just eight weeks, the report said. China is also speeding up construction projects in Kennan (Chigua), Mabini (Johnson South), Burgos (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), areas that the Philippines considers as part of its territory. Amid the mounting tension in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine government is officially opening today a central maritime monitoring hub to keep an eye on the country’s maritime domain. The National Coast Watch Center is located at South Harbor, Port Area, Manila. It was put up with the help of the US government. Source:

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