No truth to Chinese building halt in West Philippine Sea

By , on September 16, 2015


This handout photo taken on March 17, 2015 by satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe and released to AFP by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSSI) think tank shows a satellite image of vessels purportedly dredging sand at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.  The series of satellite images posted on the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week show a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto Mischief Reef and the resulting land spreading in size. Beijing on April 9 reaffirmed its right to build on the disputed islands after the satellite imagery emerged of construction operations turning tropical reefs into concrete artificial islands. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all have overlapping claims in the area. (AFP Photo / CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe)
This handout photo taken on March 17, 2015 by satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe and released to AFP by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSSI) think tank shows a satellite image of vessels purportedly dredging sand at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. The series of satellite images posted on the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week show a flotilla of Chinese vessels dredging sand onto Mischief Reef and the resulting land spreading in size. Beijing on April 9 reaffirmed its right to build on the disputed islands after the satellite imagery emerged of construction operations turning tropical reefs into concrete artificial islands. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all have overlapping claims in the area. (AFP Photo / CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe)

MANILA — Despite earlier Chinese claims that it has stopped its reclamation works in disputed portions of the West Philippine Sea, Western Command head Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez on Tuesday announced that China is still conducting construction activities in the area.

He also said that Chinese announcement of a reclamation halt last August is not true.

“They told the world that they have completed four reclamation projects (in the West Philippine Sea) but they never did announce that they have stopped their construction works. It’s just technicalities. It’s true that they have stopped all reclamation activities but now they are conducting vertical construction activities in Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross Reefs. Construction activity there is going full blast,” Lopez said in Filipino.

The Western Command chief expects these facilities to be completed before the end of the year.

He said that the facilities in the above-mentioned reefs can be used for humanitarian and military use, adding that only time can tell.

“We will see, we have to be very vigilant in monitoring,” Lopez stressed.

Earlier satellite images show China taking new steps to lay down what appears to be a 1.4-mile military runway on Subi Reef and putting the finishing touches on a two-mile airfield in Mischief Reef in the Spratly islands chain.

Subi was a once-submerged shoal that China built up into an area suitable for a military base.