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Bridging The Gap
China triggers new storm over military build-up on artificial islands.
  Wednesday 10 January, 2018
China triggers new storm over military build-up on artificial islands.

China has triggered diplomatic protests after images broadcast on state television appeared to show it had reneged on a promise not to militarise artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea.

China has caused alarm among its neighbours and in Washington by erecting military installations on what were previously reefs and partially-submerged islets in the strategically-important waters.

Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine defence secretary, said that Beijing had agreed “some time ago” that it was “not going to militarise those reclaimed islands".

However, newly-broadcast images suggest that Beijing has intensified its construction of bunkers, aircraft hangers and barracks for troops in the contested region.

“If it is true and we can prove that they have been putting soldiers and even weapons systems, that will be a violation of what they said,” added Mr Lorenzana.

A satellite image of Fiery Cross Reef in Spratly island chain in the South China Sea, annotated by the source to show areas where China has conducted construction work above ground during 2017.
A satellite image of Fiery Cross Reef in Spratly island chain in the South China Sea, annotated by the source to show areas where China has conducted construction work above ground during 2017 CREDIT: CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE/DIGITALGLOBE
The defence secretary said the protest would be made through the foreign ministry.

China said the construction was intended to aid peace in the region, as well as maritime safety and disaster prevention.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing in Beijing: “Of course, China also needs to construct necessary defence equipment for its territory. The relevant equipment is not directed at any particular country."

The spat erupted after relations between Beijing and Manilla have improved in recent months, as President Rodrigo Duterte seeks to entice Chinese investment.

Military units were seen training on the islands in the footage
Military units were seen training on the islands in the footage CREDIT: CCTV
Mr Lorenzana made his remarks after images published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last month showed China had been busy building new infrastructure in the contested region during 2017 – when much of the world was focused on North Korea.

Fiery Cross Reef appeared to have witnessed the most construction, the think tank said, with work being carried out on buildings covering 27 acres, or about 110,000 square metres.

China's neighbours have grown increasingly concerned over the militarisation
China's neighbours have grown increasingly concerned over the militarisation
Shortly before New Year, Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) aired footage of the reef which showed a group of soldiers patrolling, along with military helicopters and vessels.

CCTV also screened aerial images of the new island which showed a 3,000-metre runway that observers have long believed is capable of allowing any of China's military aircraft to land.

China lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion (£3.8 trillion) of trade passes every year.



source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/09/diplomatic-protests-china-shows-militarised-artificial-islands/

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