China builds another island in South China Sea

3:40:00 PM
BEIJING, -- IHS Jane's has obtained satellite imagery that further illustrates the extent of China's building of new islands in the Spratly Islands.

The latest image shows a new island on Gaven Reefs, known in the Philippines as the Burgos Reef, in Vietnam as Dá Ga Ven and Dá Lc and in China as Nanxun Jiao and Xinan Jiao.

China previously built a concrete platform that sat above the reef on its western side. This structure was fortified and housed anti-air and naval gun systems, along with communications equipment.

However, Airbus Defence and Space satellite imagery dated 31 March and 7 August 2014 shows that between these two dates a channel was cut out of the centre of Gaven Reefs and the resultant rubble deposited to create a rectangular island that is about 300 m by 250 m. Along with a spit that leads to the channel, about 114,000 m 2 of new land has been created.

As with Johnson South and Cuateron reefs - other sites of recent Chinese reclamation in the Spratlys - workers have enclosed the island with a concrete sea wall.

The dredging and reclamation were most likely carried out by Tian Jing Hao , a 6,017-tonne, 127 m-long cutter suction dredger that is believed to be the largest of its type in the Asia-Pacific region. IHS Jane's previously reported that Tian Jing Hao was present at Gaven Reefs from 24 May to 15 June 2014.

Based on the 7 August image, construction of the island at Gaven Reefs has not progressed as far as that at Johnson South or Cuateron reefs. For example, there are no piers or roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) docks or foundations for buildings at Gaven Reefs, although there are barracks, ISO containers and construction materials.

The seawalls at Cuateron, Gaven and Johnson South reefs all suggest that plans to build airstrips at any of the sites are secondary to establishing the islands' structure before typhoon season in late summer to autumn. In previous land reclamation activities in the South China Sea, such as in the Paracel islands, China has been content to expand each feature's footprint gradually.


Airbus Defence and Space imagery shows Chinese activity in Gaven Reefs in the Spratly Islands. China built an artificial island between March and August 2014. 


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