Satellite pictures show China building reinforced hangars on disputed islands

Satellite imagery shows reinforced aircraft hangars built by China on disputed islands in the South China Sea, according to a Washington-based think tank.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reports that the hangars, which are large enough for any fighter jet in service with the Chinese military, were photographed in late July on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs in the Spratly islands.

However there is no evidence that the Chinese have actually deployed any aircraft to the outpost, with only one temporary arrival of a military transport plane to Fiery Cross Reef earlier this year.

Judging by the rapid construction of reinforced hangars at all three facilities, CSIS say this is likely to change.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, which sees ship traffic worth $5 trillion, annually. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have claims in the area, overlapping areas claimed by China.

The images have emerged about a month after an international court in The Hague ruled against China’s sweeping claims in the resource-rich region, a ruling emphatically rejected by the Chinese. Diplomatic relations in the region have been strained by The Hague’s ruling.

China has claimed that the construction on the Spratly islands and reefs is “multipurpose, mixed, and

with the exception of necessary military defensive requirements…more for serving all forms of civil needs.”

The United States has urged China and the other claimants not to militarize their holdings in the South China Sea. China has repeatedly denied doing so, criticizing U.S. patrols and exercises for increasing tensions.

Source: Malta Today