Fresh construction starts on disputed island
HONG KONG: China has started fresh construction work in the disputed South China Sea, new satellite images show, a sign that Beijing is continuing to strengthen its military reach across the vital trade waterway.
Regional military attaches and experts believe the work shows China’s determination to build up its network of reefs and islets.
An image of North Island in the Paracels group taken on March 6 shows recent work, including land clearing and possible preparation for a harbour, to support what experts believe may be eventual military installations.
The pictures, provided by private satellite firm Planet Labs, follow reports in January showing work undertaken on nearby Tree Island and other features in the Paracels, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday that China hopes to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea by pushing forward with negotiations for a code of conduct for rival claimants in the disputed waters.
Addressing a news conference at the end of the annual meeting of China’s Parliament, Li said “substantive progress” had been made on the code. Agencies
Satellite photos showing Chinesecontrolled North Island, part of the Paracel Islands group in the South China Sea, on Feb 15 (top) and on March 6.