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Artificial Island Building in the South China Sea

South China Sea: Vietnam’s Land Reclamation 1.9%

South China Sea: Vietnam’s Land Reclamation 1.9%

Carlyle A. Thayer

Background Briefing

Question:

We request your assessment of the report on Vietnam’s Land Reclamation just released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), Washington, D.C. http://amti.csis.org/vietnam-island-building/ What do you make of it? Has Vietnam been reclaiming land in the South China Sea for a while.

Answer:

The CSIS AMTI Report will be music to China’s ears because China and its supporters are claiming that China is merely catching up with regional states. China has already alleged that regional states have reclaimed land, built military installations and even installed missiles. The CSIS report provides new information to the extent that it depicts construction on Sand Cay and West London Reef from 2010. These are the latest photos Sand Cay and West London Reef in the public domain. The CSIS report may be misleading in using the description “significant” and giving stress to military facilities. These features have been occupied by Vietnam since 1956, first the Republic of Vietnam and then the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The lighthouses were erected in the 1990s (if not earlier). All Vietnam’s occupied islands and features have military personnel. They also have “fortifications” for defensive purposes. These are flimsy positions of concrete that are not very thick.

Download the full analysis at Viet_LandReclam_Thayer [pdf]

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