04 November 2015
Recent naval manoeuvres and land reclamation activities in the Spratlys have drawn attention to the risk of incidents leading to growing tensions and even conflict in the South China Sea. On October 27, the United States Navy sent its guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen into waters within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) of Subi Reef, which China claims. Chinese naval vessels shadowed the destroyer until it left the waters around the reef.
“Provocative” was the description Malaysia’s chief of Armed Forces General Zulkifeli bin Mohd Zin used to describe China’s extensive land reclamation in the South China Sea when he spoke at the defence-focused Xiangshan Forum in Beijing on October 18. Beijing has built a helipad, wharfs, a weather observation station and a four-storey building on ground dredged up from Subi Reef. China also appears to be reclaiming land for the building of a runway estimated to be 3,300 metres long, as well as a parallel taxiway, capable of meeting any military requirements.
… Barry Desker is a distinguished fellow and Bakrie Professor of Southeast Asia Policy at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 04/11/2015