Thursday, Feb 5, 2015Thursday, Feb 5, 2015
Manila Says China Starts Dredging At Another Reef In South China Sea
Published on Feb 5, 2015 8:52 PM
In this aerial file photograph taken from a Philippine Air Force aircraft on Nov 6, 2003, Chinese-built structures on the Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly islands are seen strategically located in the South China Sea. — PHOTO: AFP
MANILA (Reuters) – China has started dredging around the disputed Mischief Reef in the South China Sea, a Philippine navy commander said on Thursday, signalling Beijing may be preparing to expand its facilities in the area.
Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping tried to set Southeast Asian minds at ease over the country’s regional ambitions, but Beijing’s reclamation work in the Spratlys underscores its drive to push claims in the South China Sea and reassert its rights.
China has already undertaken reclamation work on six other reefs it occupies in the Spratlys, expanding land mass five-fold, aerial surveillance photos show. Images seen by Reuters last year appeared to show an airstrip and sea ports.
China has claims on almost the entire South China Sea, which is believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims on the sea where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade pass every year.