South China Sea: How We Got to This Stage

Re­cently, The ka­tional In­ter­est pub­lished an ar­ti­cle co-au­thored by Ms. Fu ving, chair­per­son of the For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee of China’s ka­tional meo­ple’s Congress and chair of the Aca­demic Com­mit­tee of China’s In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional ptrat­egy at the C

China Pictorial (English) - - Contents - Text by Fu Ying and Wu Shi­cun

The South China Sea is­sue has be­come one of the ma­jor ir­ri­tants in the China-u. S. re­la­tions in re­cent years, over which the pub­lic opinion in the two coun­tries has been very crit­i­cal of each other.

The lat­est rhetoric is about “mil­i­ta­riz­ing the South China Sea”, and on the part of the U. S., an­nounce­ments to carry out “free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tional as­ser­tions”. Hawk­ish voices are grow­ing louder in both sides of the Pa­cific. Such fric­tions sur­round­ing the South China Sea are lead­ing to fur­ther strate­gic mis­trust and hos­til­ity. The Amer­i­can scholar David M. Lamp­ton was straight­for­ward when he ob­served wor­riedly in ref­er­ence to the ex­ist­ing sit­u­a­tion, “A tip­ping point in the U. S.- China re­la­tions is upon us.” It is ob­vi­ous that the South China Sea is­sue is a ma­jor cat­a­lyst for the trou­bled China-u. S. re­la­tions, if not the key con­tribut­ing fac­tor.

Im­pe­rial Ja­pan’s Oc­cu­pa­tion of the Nan­sha Is­lands and Post-war Ar­range­ments

The South China Sea is the largest mar­ginal sea in the West Pa­cific re­gion, cov­er­ing an area of 3.5 mil­lion square kilo­me­ters. China has sovereignty over four ar­chi­pel­a­gos in the South China Sea, namely, the Xisha, Nan­sha, Zhong­sha and Dong­sha Is­lands, which are in­di­cated by the dash lines on the map drawn in 1947. Be­fore the 1930s, there was no dispute over China’s own­er­ship of them, as re­flected in many maps and en­cy­clo­pe­dias pub­lished around the world.

In 1939, Ja­pan oc­cu­pied part of the Nan­sha Is­lands in an ef­fort to con­trol South­east Asia and in prepa­ra­tions for an in­va­sion of Aus­tralia.

The Cairo Dec­la­ra­tion of Novem­ber 1943, signed by the heads of the gov­ern­ments of China, the United States and the United King­dom, pro­claimed that “…Ja­pan shall be stripped of all the is­lands in the Pa­cific which she has seized or oc­cu­pied since the be­gin­ning of the first World War in 1914, and that all the ter­ri­to­ries Ja­pan has stolen from the Chi­nese, such as Manchuria, For­mosa, and the Pescadores, shall be re­stored to the Re­pub­lic of China.”

In the face of the divi­sion of both sides of the Tai­wan Straits, the out­break of the Cold War and ten­sions be­tween the two Camps, the U. S. opted for a prag­matic at­ti­tude to­ward the own­er­ship of the is­lands and reefs in the South China Sea. This prag­ma­tism was re­flected in the Peace Treaty of San Fran­cisco be­tween Ja­pan and some of the Al­lied Pow­ers. Signed on Septem­ber 8, 1951 and ef­fec­tive as of April 28, 1952, the doc­u­ment served to end the Al­lied post-war oc­cu­pa­tion of Ja­pan and es­tab­lish Ja­pan’s role in the in­ter­na­tional arena. It of­fi­cially re­nounced Ja­pan’s rights to the land it oc­cu­pied in­clud­ing re­nun­ci­a­tion of “all right, ti­tle and claim to the Spratly Is­lands and to the Para­cel Is­lands”. Its Ar­ti­cle 2(6) stip­u­lated that “Ja­pan re­nounces all

right, ti­tle and claim to the Spratly Is­lands (the Nan­sha Is­lands) and to the Para­cel Is­lands (the Xisha Is­lands),” but did not spec­ify the own­er­ship of these is­lands.

How­ever, de­spite its his­tory as the big­gest vic­tim of the Ja­panese mil­i­tarism and one of the four ma­jor vic­tors in WWII, the PRC was not in­vited to the treaty talks held in San Fran­cisco. In re­ac­tion to that, on 15th Au­gust, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is­sued the Dec­la­ra­tion on the Draft Peace Treaty with Ja­pan by the U. S. and the U.K. and on the San Fran­cisco Con­fer­ence by the then For­eign Min­is­ter Zhou En­lai, af­firm­ing China’s sovereignty over the ar­chi­pel­a­gos in the South China Sea, in­clud­ing the Nan­sha Is­lands, and protest­ing about the ab­sence of any pro­vi­sions in the draft on who shall take over the South China Sea is­lands fol­low­ing Ja­pan’s re­nounce­ment of all rights, ti­tle and claim to them. It re­it­er­ated that “the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment of the day had taken over those is­lands” and that the PRC’S right­ful sovereignty “shall re­main in­tact”.

Dis­putes dur­ing the Cold War

Since mid-1950s, the Philip­pines and South Viet­nam started their en­croach­ment of the Nan­sha Is­lands.

A big­ger wave of en­croach­ment hap­pened in the 1970s and 1980s, un­der the in­flu­ence of the dis­cov­ery of rich oil and gas re­serves on the con­ti­nen­tal shelve of the South China Sea by the U. S. and a num­ber of UN sur­vey agen­cies in the late 1960s, and the sign­ing of the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea in 1982, which in­tro­duced the 200 nau­tical mile ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone (EEZ) regime.

Greatly in­cen­tivized by a high po­ten­tial for re­source ex­plo­ration, Viet­nam, the Philip­pines and Malaysia set their sights on is­lands and reefs in the Nan­sha Is­lands. At the same time, these coun­tries dra­mat­i­cally al­tered their original stance on the is­sue of the Nan­sha Is­lands. By for­mu­lat­ing na­tional laws of the sea and is­su­ing po­lit­i­cal state­ments, they of­fi­cially as­serted sovereignty over the Nan­sha Is­lands and made claims on the ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters sur­round­ing the Nan­sha Is­lands.

At the same time, the U. S. clearly demon­strated its ac­knowl­edg­ment of China’s sovereignty over the Nan­sha Is­lands in its diplo­matic in­quiries, mea­sure­ment re­quests and flight plan no­ti­fi­ca­tions. In ad­di­tion, the Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties have also re­ceived the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary per­son­nel on Nan­sha Is­land where it sta­tioned forces. For a long pe­riod of time, the U. S. re­mained silent to the en­croach­ments by the Philip­pines and Viet­nam, but it did con­sult the Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties on many oc­ca­sions re­lated to the

sovereignty is­sue over these is­lands and reefs. From Fe­bru­ary 1957 to Fe­bru­ary 1961 the U. S. gov­ern­ment made mul­ti­ple ap­pli­ca­tion re­quests to the Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties to al­low the U. S. Air Force based in the Philip­pines to con­duct nau­tical chart mea­sure­ment and me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal sur­veys in the vicin­ity of Huangyan Is­land (Scar­bor­ough Reef) and the Nan­sha Is­lands, ob­vi­ously ac­knowl­edg­ing China’s sovereignty over these is­lands through the con­sul­ta­tion of the Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties. Such ac­knowl­edg­ment was con­firmed in books and maps pub­lished around this time such as Columbia Lip­pin­cott Gazetteer of the World (1961), World­mark En­cy­clo­pe­dia of the Na­tions (1963), and Con­sti­tu­tions of the Coun­tries of the World (1971), all of which clearly state that the Nan­sha Is­lands be­long to China. In­deed, the U. S. pol­icy-mak­ers faced a dilemma at that time: on one hand, out of a moral com­mit­ment to its Chi­nese Na­tion­al­ist ally in Tai­wan, and in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional law, the U. S. should have an­nounced these fea­tures as Chi­nese ter­ri­tory; on the other hand, out of its anti-com­mu­nism pol­icy and Asia-pa­cific strat­egy, it could not pos­si­bly rec­og­nize the Chi­nese main­land as their right­ful owner, nor did it want to hurt its re­la­tions with its im­por­tant al­lies, such as the Philip­pines, through such recog­ni­tion.

As far as China is con­cerned, over the years, only the Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties had sta­tion forces on Taip­ing Is­land. It’s not un­til the late 1980s in the 20th cen­tury when the Chi­nese main­land started to take con­trol over six mi­nor is­lands and reefs. In 1994, China built fish­ery and shel­ter­ing fa­cil­i­ties on Meiji Reef.

The Road to the Dec­la­ra­tion on the Con­duct of Par­ties in the South China Sea

In the early 1990s, as the Cold War came to an end, the re­la­tions among the coun­tries be­gan to rec­on­cile and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment be­came the pri­mary fo­cus in the APAC re­gion, China switched onto a fast track to­ward es­tab­lish­ing rap­port with South­east Asian coun­tries and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN).

China then em­barked on a path of con­fi­dence-build­ing and all­round co­op­er­a­tion with ASEAN, guided by its new for­eign pol­icy of re­al­iz­ing and main­tain­ing sta­bil­ity in South­east Asia. In spite of all these de­vel­op­ments, sovereignty over the Nan­sha Is­lands re­mained the most fre­quently de­bated is­sue be­tween China and its ASEAN neigh­bors. China, based on its his­tor­i­cal own­er­ship of these is­lands and widely-rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tional doc­u­ments, con­sis­tently de­fended its in­dis­putable sovereignty over them as it had done in the past. On the other hand, China de­cided to copy here its pol­icy of “set­ting aside dispute and pur­su­ing joint de­vel­op­ment”, which was prac­ticed over the Diaoyu Is­land of the East China Sea, for the sake of co­op­er­a­tion and re­gional sta­bil­ity. How­ever, China made clear this did not mean re­nounc­ing its sovereignty over the Nan­sha Is­lands.

Through­out the 1990s, the rapid de­vel­op­ment of the China-ASEAN re­la­tions largely masked seething con­tention in the South China Sea; nev­er­the­less, dis­putes sur­faced from time to time.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, with a view to stop­ping the dispute from boil­ing over and main­tain­ing the sound CHINA-ASEAN part­ner­ship, re­sorted to a con­certed diplo­matic ef­fort fea­tur­ing con­sul­ta­tions with coun­tries like Viet­nam, Malaysia and es­pe­cially the Philip­pines. Ten­sions be­gan to ease. In March 1999, the work­ing group on the de­vel­op­ment of con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures held their first meet­ing in Manila, at which both sides agreed, after mul­ti­ple con­sul­ta­tions, to ex­er­cise re­straint and re­frain from tak­ing any ac­tion that could es­ca­late dis­putes.

An in­for­mal con­sul­ta­tion was held be­tween China and the ASEAN coun­tries in Thai­land on March 15, 2000, and “the code of con­duct” doc­u­ments re­spec­tively drafted by both sides were ex­changed and dis­cussed. How­ever, due to con­sid­er­able dif­fer­ing views on its bind­ing pow­ers among the par­ties, and China and Viet­nam’s dif­fer­ences on the ar­eas it should cover, the draft­ing process did not go very well, and sub­se­quent con­sul­ta­tions yielded no sub­stan­tial out­come.

With a view to dif­fuse the stand­off, Malaysia pro­posed to re­place “the code of con­duct” with a com­pro­mis­ing and non-bind­ing “dec­la­ra­tion” at the 35th ASEAN Min­is­te­rial Meet­ing held in Ban­dar Seri Be­gawan, Brunei, in July 2002. Sev­eral months later, a con­sul­ta­tion on the Dec­la­ra­tion on the Con­duct of Par­ties in the South China Sea (DOC) was held in place of a con­so­la­tion on “the code of con­duct”, where both sides en­gaged in many rounds of dif­fi­cult ne­go­ti­a­tions. At the 8th ASEAN Sum­mit con­vened in Ph­nom Penh, Cam­bo­dia, on Novem­ber 4, 2002, Mr. Wang Yi, then Vice Min­is­ter of For­eign Af­fairs, and For­eign Min­is­ters of the ten ASEAN Mem­ber States jointly signed the DOC.

Shortly after the Cold War ended, the U. S. re­mained com­mit­ted to its pre­vi­ous pol­icy of not tak­ing sides on the le­git­i­macy of ter­ri­to­rial claims, em­pha­siz­ing that the dis­putes should be peace­fully re­solved, and that the free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion in the South China Sea should be main­tained. As Asia was not the fo­cal point of the U. S.’s global pol­icy at that time, the oc­ca­sional reemer­gence of dis­putes over the Nan­sha Is­lands did not move the U. S. to change its neu­tral stance. It stressed that par­ties con­cerned should set­tle ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes through peace­ful means.

A Decade with Ten­sions Sim­mer­ing un­der the Sur­face

In nearly ten years after the in­tro­duc­tion of the DOC, China was the only party to faith­fully abide by the doc­u­ment. It re­frained from tak­ing ac­tions that might es­ca­late the dispute in the South China Sea, and kept push­ing for peace and co­op­er­a­tion and joint de­vel­op­ment in dis­puted ar­eas. By con­trast, Viet­nam, Malaysia, the Philip­pines and some other ASEAN coun­tries were half-hearted about the DOC. They kept on trans­form­ing and ex­pand­ing oc­cu­pied is­lands, re­in­forc­ing their ad­min­is­tra­tive man­age­ment of them, and ac­cel­er­ated the de­vel­op­ment of oil and gas re­sources in sur­round­ing wa­ters. They also made oc­ca­sional ar­rests of Chi­nese fish­er­men work­ing in these wa­ters. One com­mon ef­fort of these coun­tries is to so­lid­ify their il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion and ex­tend the ter­ri­to­rial dispute to the mar­itime sphere. What they were try­ing to do was more of deny­ing the ex­is­tence of the dis­putes than shelv­ing them. This con­tin­u­ously en­raged the Chi­nese pub­lic and me­dia, elic­it­ing sus­tained at­ten­tion.

But it must be ad­mit­ted that de­spite a con­tin­u­ing tug-of-war in the South China Sea, the gen­eral sit­u­a­tion was un­der con­trol be­fore 2009. Soon there­after, things be­came more com­pli­cated, mostly due to an of­fi­cial dead­line set by the UN Com­mis­sion on the Lim­its of the Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf (CLCS), ac­cord­ing to which rel­e­vant states should sub­mit claims over a con­ti­nen­tal shelf ex­tend­ing the 200 nau­tical miles from its ter­ri­to­rial sea by May 15, 2009. An even greater fac­tor is the in­tro­duc­tion of the Amer­i­can Asia-pa­cific re­bal­anc­ing strat­egy.

Chi­nese diplo­matic ef­forts to main­tain sta­bil­ity in the South China Sea and dif­fuse ten­sions with ASEAN coun­tries con­tin­ued. China achieved some progress through its painstak­ing ef­forts to seek to re­solve dis­putes via peace­ful talks. At the ASEAN- China Min­is­te­rial Meet­ing (10+1) held in Bali, In­done­sia in July 2011, the Guide­lines to Im­ple­ment the DOC was adopted by China and ASEAN coun­tries. China reached some un­der­stand­ing with the Philip­pines and Viet­nam through bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions. Still, these ef­forts were not enough to off­set U. S.’s Asia-pa­cific re­bal­ance strat­egy, and claimants like the Philip­pines and Viet­nam, in turn, didn’t dis­play much re­straint.

These provoca­tive ac­tiv­i­ties by some ASEAN mem­ber coun­tries and the U.S.’S in­ter­ven­tion have been closely watched and widely re­ported in China, evok­ing strong reper­cus­sions among the pub­lic. Un­der the dou­bling-down pres­sure of pol­icy sus­tain­abil­ity and pub­lic opinion, China’s re­straint pol­icy is ap­proach­ing to its brink.

Ten­sions as Re­sult of Wrestling among Mul­ti­ple Play­ers

In April 2012, the Philip­pine Navy made a provoca­tive ar­rest of Chi­nese fish­er­men work­ing in the Huangyan Is­land wa­ters in what was later known as the Huangyan Is­land In­ci­dent. Ar­guably this be­came the “last straw on the camel’s back” in the frag­ile sta­bil­ity in the South China Sea, and it tested the bot­tom line of China’s pol­icy and pa­tience.

As if the Huangyan Is­land In­ci­dent was not bad enough for ten­sions, Viet­nam adopted its do­mes­tic Mar­itime Law on June 21, in an at­tempt to le­gal­ize its ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South China Sea.

On Jan­uary 22, 2013, the Philip­pines ini­ti­ated ar­bi­tral pro­ceed­ings against China at the In­ter­na­tional Tri­bunal for the Law of the Sea. As far as ar­bi­tra­tion is con­cerned, China al­ready made a dec­la­ra­tion on op­tional ex­cep­tions in 2006 un­der Ar­ti­cle 298 of the UN Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea. Since the Ar­bi­tra­tion Court ju­ris­dic­tion con­cerns sovereignty, his­toric rights and en­ti­tle­ment, China is ex­empt from the ar­bi­tra­tion. There is no pro­vi­sion in the con­ven­tion to en­force an ad­verse award on China.

In 2013, in view of the chang­ing sit­u­a­tion in the South China Sea, and to meet the civil and de­fense needs on the is­lands and to de­fend its sovereignty, China launched recla­ma­tion projects on its con­trolled Nan­sha is­lands. As all of these is­lands are far away from the in­ter­na­tional nav­i­ga­tion routes, there was no ques­tion of these projects hav­ing any im­pact on the free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion. But the U.S. and the Philip­pines kept ac­cus­ing China and hyp­ing the is­sue.

China’s ac­tions have not been fully un­der­stood by its neigh­bors who ex­pressed con­cerns. The U. S. also stepped up its in­ter­ven­tion, buzzing over China’s is­land recla­ma­tion projects us­ing rhetoric like “reach­ing too far and too fast” and “is­lands mil­i­ta­riza­tion” to pile pres­sure on China, and even send­ing ships to sail near the Nan­sha and Xisha Is­lands. All these moves were per­ceived in China as se­ri­ous se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

From the per­spec­tive of many Chi­nese peo­ple, the U. S. is the in­vis­i­ble hand be­hind the ris­ing tension in the South China Sea.

Since 2014, the U. S. has made clearer re­sponses to China in the South China Sea, in pos­tures of di­rect in­ter­ven­tion in the dis­putes and of­ten in fa­vor of other claimants, es­pe­cially its own al­lies.

From the Chi­nese per­spec­tive, as well as un­der­min­ing the U. S. cred­i­bil­ity as a po­ten­tial me­di­a­tor, the U. S.’s dra­mat­i­cally al­tered pol­icy on the South China Sea has height­ened China’s fears that its in­ter­ests would be fur­ther un­der­mined, thus in­spir­ing its de­ter­mi­na­tion and mea­sures to de­fend them.

Co­op­er­a­tion Leads to Win-win Re­sult

It can be seen from the above nar­ra­tive that the sit­u­a­tion in the South China Sea came to the state of where we are today is the re­sult of the en­tan­gling ef­fect of the ac­tions and re­ac­tions along mul­ti­ple lines. There is also in­flu­ence from the changes in the in­ter­na­tional and re­gional se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment. The ele­ments that pushed the spi­ral­ing twists and turns in­clude not only sovereignty, re­sources and strate­gic se­cu­rity con­sid­er­a­tions, but also tan­gi­ble in­ter­ests. There is also the prob­lem of in­for­ma­tion dis-link and his­tor­i­cal and in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory loss. More­over, the guess­ing game about each other’s strate­gic in­ten­tions and pol­icy ob­jec­tives is also play­ing a role. The U. S. as a power from out­side the re­gion has played a ma­jor role by com­ing into the is­sue and ad­just­ing its poli­cies to­wards the re­gion since 2009.

China’s pur­suit in the South China Sea has been con­sis­tently main­tained. That is to safe­guard na­tional ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and main­tain re­gional peace and tran­quil­ity. To ob­serve China, one should never lose sight of the his­tor­i­cal di­men­sion. Though China

is grow­ing into a strong coun­try, the painful mem­ory of his­tory is not long gone. The Chi­nese peo­ple have not for­got­ten that the coun­try stum­bled into the 20th cen­tury with its cap­i­tal un­der the oc­cu­pa­tion of the im­pe­ri­al­ists’ armies, and for over a cen­tury be­fore and after, China suf­fered the hu­mil­i­a­tion of for­eign in­va­sion and ag­gres­sion. That is why the Chi­nese peo­ple and gov­ern­ment are very sen­si­tive about any­thing that is re­lated to ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity and would never al­low such re­cur­rence even if it’s just an inch of land. This is some­thing the out­side world needs to keep in mind when look­ing at China and try­ing to un­der­stand China’s be­hav­ior. Ad­mit­tedly, there is no ma­jor ex­ter­nal threat that can en­dan­ger China’s sur­vival or de­vel­op­ment in today’s world. China ad­heres to the path of peace­ful de­vel­op­ment and it ded­i­cates to pro­mot­ing world peace, de­vel­op­ment and co­op­er­a­tion. Its be­lief and com­mit­ment are firm and un­changed.

In his speech at the Open­ing Cer­e­mony of the Fifth Meet­ing of the CICA Min­is­ters of For­eign Af­fairs on April 28, 2016, the Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping stated: “Let me stress that China is com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in the South China Sea. We firmly stand by our sovereignty and rights and in­ter­ests in the South China Sea, and re­main com­mit­ted to re­solv­ing dis­putes peace­fully through friendly con­sul­ta­tion and negotiation with coun­tries di­rectly con­cerned.” From the con­sul­ta­tions the Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi held in re­cent months with his coun­ter­part among ASEAN coun­tries, one could also see that China’s propo­si­tion of “dual-track” ap­proach, mean­ing dis­putes be re­solved peace­fully through negotiation be­tween the par­ties di­rectly con­cerned and China and ASEAN coun­tries work to­gether to main­tain peace and sta­bil­ity in the South China Sea, has been well re­ceived and sup­ported. ASEAN start to re­al­ize the im­por­tance of keep­ing the sit­u­a­tion un­der con­trol and re­turn to the track of di­a­logue.

The fu­ture di­rec­tion of trend would very much de­pend on the per­cep­tions and choices of the par­ties in­volved. If they choose to co­op­er­ate, they may all win. If they choose to con­front each other, they may only head for im­passe or even con­flict and no one can ben­e­fit to­tally.

The HYSY 981 oil rig, the first sixth- gen­er­a­tion semi-sub­mersible drilling plat­form in­de­pen­dently de­signed and con­structed by China, be­gan op­er­a­tion in the con­tigu­ous zone of China’s Xisha Is­lands on May 9, 2012, ex­plor­ing oil and gas re­sources. by Jin Liangkuai/xin­hua

Stilted houses in­hab­ited by Chi­nese sol­diers guard­ing Dong­men Reef of China’s Nan­sha Is­lands, March 1998. by Niu Zhi­jun/cfb 1988: Chi­nese sci­en­tists con­duct a satel­lite po­si­tion­ing sur­vey of reefs and wa­ters near Xinyi Shoal of China’s Nan­sha Is­lands. CFB

March 1998: De­spite the short­age of soil and fresh­wa­ter, Chi­nese of­fi­cers and sol­diers liv­ing on the Nan­sha Is­lands still man­age to grow veg­eta­bles such as wa­ter spinach, cu­cum­bers, pep­pers, and toma­toes. by Long Yunhe/cfb

April 5, 2016: The Chi­nese Min­istry of Trans­port holds a com­ple­tion cer­e­mony for the light­house on Zhubi Reef in the South China Sea, com­menc­ing its op­er­a­tion. The light­house is ex­pected to fur­ther en­hance the nav­i­ga­tion se­cu­rity and emer­gency res­cue ca­pac­ity in nearby wa­ters. by Xing Guan­gli/xin­hua

A satel­lite im­age shows the Yong­shu Reef of the Nan­sha Is­lands after a land recla­ma­tion project in south­ern China. The con­struc­tion project on shoals and reefs of the Nan­sha Is­lands will be com­pleted, as planned, in the up­com­ing days. Xin­hua

April 17, 2016: A pa­trol air­craft of the Chi­nese Navy trans­port­ing three sick work­ers from Yong­shu Reef of China’s Nan­sha Is­lands ar­rives at the Sanya Phoenix In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Sanya, Hainan Prov­ince, for treat­ment. by Gao Hong­wei/xin­hua

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