China Establishing Airstrip on Disputed Land?

China Establishing Airstrip on Disputed Land?

( – There has been an ongoing dispute over land and waters of the South China Sea. China claims all of the territory — including the islands — belongs to the country. Other nations, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan, disagree. Yet, that hasn’t stopped China from doing what it does best: employing threatening tactics to get what it wants. Now, it appears the Asian nation is building on an island in the sea — and the action is raising a lot of eyebrows.

Satellite Pictures Show Development

Triton Island is part of the Paracel group, a cluster of approximately 130 islands and reefs east of Vietnam and China. Satellite images taken on August 15 reveal a new development that mirrors what the Asian nation has already done on other islands, namely in the Spratly group. According to The Associated Press, China is apparently building a 2,000-foot airstrip on Triton Island.

Analysts speculate that Beijing might use the landmark for military purposes, though it can only accommodate some aircraft, such as turboprops and drones. This action is very similar — albeit on a smaller scale — to its moves on other islands in the Paracel and Spratly island groups, where it has created 27 outposts. Additionally, the nation deployed cruise missiles, a radar system, and fighter jets to Woody Island, effectively militarizing it.

China isn’t the only country to lay claim to Triton Island. Both Vietnam and Taiwan do as well, setting up an international conflict over the small spit of land.

Hague Denies China’s Claims

In January 2013, the Phillippines brought a case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), citing violations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Among the accusations was that China prevented “the rotation and resupply of Philippine personnel” stationed on the Second Thomas Shoal. China counteracted, saying that in the 1930s and the 1950s, it enacted laws declaring the sea its own territory.

In the end, the court ruled in favor of the Philippines on nearly all the counts it brought forward. However, despite China’s participation in UNCLOS as a signatory to the treaty, it refuses to recognize the court’s authority. Therefore, the nation continued its developments on disputed islands along with interruptive tactics, many of which still carry on today.

The United States has taken issue with China’s aggressions when approaching the region to carry out “freedom of navigation operations.” However, the US doesn’t have an official stance on the sovereignty of the sea.

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