Bloomberg News on Wednesday quoted a group of Western officials who accused China of creating more artificial islands in the South China Sea, specifically in the disputed Spratly archipelago, in what looks like the first stage of an audacious new land grab.
“While China has previously built out disputed reefs, islands and land formations in the area that it had long controlled — and militarized them with ports, runways and other infrastructure — the officials presented images of what they called the first known instances of a nation doing so on territory it doesn’t already occupy,” Bloomberg’s sources explained.
China’s colonization process involves dredging up sand and rock to enhance minimal “features” such as tiny reefs and desolate sand bars until they become large enough to support military structures.
China then builds military infrastructure with gusto, covering its artificial islands with everything from radar installations and missile launchers to bomber-capable runways. Once a sand bar has been transformed into a sort of stationary aircraft carrier, bristling with missiles and warplanes, the question of which government actually owns the waters around that islet becomes moot.