Why China is building islands in the South China Sea


This is Fiery Cross island. It’s a little more than one square mile in size and it’s home to a Chinese military base. There’s a 10,000 foot airstrip, an advanced radar station, a missile defense system, and about 200 troops. But the strangest thing about Fiery Cross Island is that two years ago, it didn’t exist. And neither did the six other Chinese military bases that have been built on man-made islands in the South China Sea. If you look at this satellite image from 2014, you can see huge Chinese ships collecting around remote reefs in the Spratly Islands. An archipelago in the South China Sea. In this image, these ships are rapidly pumping sand and rock up onto the reef. They’re building islands. And less than a year later, the Chinese had seaports air bases and buildings on their new islands and the world had taken notice. We continue our look this morning on what China does not want you to see the superpower is reclaiming land in seven spots in the South China Sea adding on average more than three-and-a-half acres everyday. With these islands times trying to lay claim to one of the most important areas of ocean in the world the South China Sea. The South China Sea is incredibly rich in natural resources 11 billion barrels of oil, 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and ten percent of the world’s fisheries. Most importantly though, 30% of the world’s shipping trade flows through here to the booming population centers and economic markets of Southeast Asia. It’s an extremely important body of water and right now five countries lay claim to some part of it. Now, most countries base their claim off the UN Law of the Seas, which says a country’s territorial waters extend 200 miles off their shore. An area called the exclusive economic zone, or EEZ. Countries have exclusive rights to all the resources and trade in there EEZ. It’s their sovereign territory. So for example, any oil that’s found within 200 miles off the coast of Vietnam belongs exclusively to Vietnam. But any area that isn’t in an EEZ is regarded as international waters and it falls under UN maritime law which means everybody shares it. Now, every country in the South China Sea region uses this 200-mile EEZ threshold to determine its claims. All except China. China argued they have a historical claim to the South China Sea dating back to naval expeditions in the 15th century. And they mark it using a really confusing border called the nine-dash line. Following World War II, Japan who had dominated the entire region, lost all control of its surrounding seas. China used the moment to claim the South China Sea by drawing this imprecise line on the map that encompassed ninety percent of the South China Sea. It became known as the nine-dash line. When the UN established the 200-mile EEZ in 1973 China stuck to its own line, refusing to clarify its boundaries and ignoring claims by other countries. Now that brings us to the Spratly Islands. It’s a remote barely inhabited cluster of islands currently claimed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. The Spratlys are both geographically and symbolically at the heart of South China Sea. That’s because any country that can claim the Spratly islands can extend their EEZs to include them and gain exclusive rights to the surrounding territory. But it’s really hard to legitimately claim uninhabited piles of sand so a few nations have built small buildings and ports on their claimed islands and even stuck a few people there. But China believes all the Spratly Islands belong to them which brings us back to why they’re building islands there. Installing military bases on these new artificial islands took the dispute to a whole new level showing how China’s potentially willing to defend its claims with force. Now this is about when the United States took notice. While the US has no claim in the South China Sea, it is the world’s lone superpower and uses its massive Navy to defend international waters. China sees the US presence in the area as an encroachment in their backyard. When a US destroyer ship sailed just 12 miles off the shore of one of China’s man-made islands and the Spratlys China sent out their own destroyer and a patrol boat as a warning. China is building these islands in order to increase control around the surrounding waters. Using a strategy that they’ve deemed “The Cabbage Strategy”. Where they surround a contested island with as many ships as possible. In May of 2013 China sent several ships to Ayungin shoal, which is just 105 nautical miles off the coast of the Philippines, well within that 200 mile EEZ. The Philippines has eight soldiers stationed there. Like wrapping leaves around a cabbage the Chinese sealed off the Philippines access to Ayungin Shoal with fishing boats, surveillance ships, and navy destroyers creating blockade so that the Filipinos can’t receive shipments of food and supplies. By building their own man-made Islands China’s essentially building naval bases. The more Islands they have the more ships they can support and more territory they can slowly take control of. And the Chinese cautiously use the cabbage strategy in the Spratly islands, taking over contested territory but in small steps avoiding the possibility of igniting a bigger conflict. But the disputes are intensifying. Countries are now actively arresting trespassers in waters that they claim and China could go a step further. Since 2015 they’ve threatened to declare an air identification zone above the South China Sea, declaring that all aircraft that fly through it would need Chinese permission. Now, publicly China insists that their intentions are not militaristic but their actions say otherwise and it’s heightening tensions in the region Steve Bannon who sits on the US National Security Council and who is one of President Trump’s closest advisors is almost certain that the US will go to war in the South China Sea. “We’re going to war in the South China Sea, I was a sailor there, a naval officer, we’re going to war the South China Sea in five to ten years aren’t we?” “there’s no doubt about it” But for now the disputes remain only in the legal and diplomatic realms that only occasionally break into minor clashes. In July 2016 the international court at the Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines who charged China with invading their rightful territory in the South China Sea. China dismissed the ruling and enforcement of the law doesn’t seem likely. Even from the US who released a vague statement urging the two countries to “clarify their claims” and “work together to resolve their disputes” which is another way of saying “we don’t really want to deal with this”. In fact, as the conflict escalates and international courts get involved, the US is stuck in a tricky position. On one hand, they do not want to risk provoking a conflict with China. But on the other they want China to stop bullying their allies in the region. Up until now the US has managed the situation by continuing to patrol through the South China Sea. It’s also likely that the US would fly fighter jets above the sea if China actually does declare an air identification zone. These are symbolic but effective ways of keeping Chine in check while not getting too involved in the details of the conflict. So far the disputes in the South China Sea have not become violent but countries are starting to defend their claims by increasing troop numbers, weaponizing their territory and provoking each other. It’s a complex situation that will continue to gain international attention for better or for worse.

100 thoughts on “Why China is building islands in the South China Sea

  1. Why is there a big need to dominate to dicktate to bully, just because they are bigger, what a load of bullies and mungers, this is how unfortunately people behave whenever they feel they have the uperhand. Cannot people ever control these dictotoriol creeps.

  2. With the way the world economy is going, China and India will overtake us. I don’t see how USA will stay on top unless something unexpected happens. Also the reason why USA became number 1 was that their economy was stimulated during WW2 and the war wasn’t on their land.

  3. To my fellow Filipinos, please curb the patriotism for now. Face reality, the world is now either run by the blues or the reds, us Filipinos barely have anything to support our own combatants so stop forcing our government to make a decision that they know we can never win, both legally and possibly military.

  4. 中国有句老话:大自然的鬼斧神工。如果你说是人造岛礁,请问世界上哪个国家可以做到?如果都做不到,为什么中国可以?所以,中国也不行,这一切都是大自然的鬼斧神工。If it is an artificial island reef, can you do it in other countries? Why are they not allowed in other countries, why is China? So you can conclude that China does not have this technical strength. Everything is the evolution of nature itself. The magic of nature….

  5. What is wrong with one country taking control of its historical lands. Superpower such as uk & us were always using forceful means to dominate the world development in order to benefitting themselves

  6. This issue was raised because of the natural resources in South China Sea & us's containment policy. All old maps even Vietnamese, Philippines, American maps stated that these islands belongs to China.

  7. One of the first things Trump did after being elected was send the Navy back to the China sea. Whereas Obama pulled the Navy.

  8. Are we gonna ignore that someday Philippines will be China's province Pls U.S.A help us just like General McArthur did

  9. Hey I thought the USA was no where near the Philippines or China? Let China and others IN THE REGION figure this out. The US nor the UN have no business interfering in the conflict.

  10. China is a real threat to the freedom of the world and because of money and CCP interference its going mostly ignored.

  11. The artificial islands and their military buildup is for China to take control of the area and also provide a defense shield while they seek control of the oil and minerals within the area. China also wants the land that was part of old China which in now called Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam. I am sure they would also like the Philippines for a province because of its strategic value.

  12. The South China Sea and Taiwan Province have been Chinese territory since ancient times, and no one can take them away.

  13. There’s a reason why China isn’t following those rules, maybe because the president of the Philippines, rodrigo duterte, is in favor of China claiming those islands.

  14. China claims they own the South China Sea. They can build whatever they want there. From their point of view, there are no disputed territory, but occupied land to be recovered from foreign countries.

  15. I may be wrong here, but how different is this from ‘colonizing’ countries claiming other peoples’ lands? We could go back far in history, but looking from the 15th century Portugal, Spain, England, France, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Japan, USA, all claimed lands that belonged to other peoples, and when resistance appeared, the guns came out.

  16. The United States is the largest evil country, with hundreds of military bases around the world!

    War everywhere, the Middle East has been destroyed, they have not helped build a new country! They are just for oil, in order to maintain the status of the dollar!

    In the next world war, I hope that all the nuclear weapons of Russia and China will be launched to the United States!

  17. I don't know what their purpose is (China) to build the island. While is too far from the China territory?
    This has caused concern for the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. Don't say this is China's trophy in World War II.
    Many people already know China won World War II. But that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want in the ocean waters of other countries. The country of China is already big and rich. What else is not enough?
    We live on the same earth. Air and share everything God created.
    Take a look at the regions of China. Many natural products and natural resources can be enough for another 1000 years. But why are the chinese so greedy?
    Is there another agenda?
    ➭ Try to be the new power of the world. And trying to be a modern-day colonizer?
    ➭ Expand the geography of China. We are aware that they have succeeded in seizing the lands of Xinjiang, Tibet and other regions of China. That makes their country great. They want Hong Kong and Taiwan part of China. Now they want countries in southeast Asia.
    ➭ China is on a mission to suppress the dominance of the USA and Europe as world powers.
    ➭ They don't just want to dominate the military. Even the number one language. It will be mandarin (Chinese Language).
    ➭ They will invest and lobby for every poor country. By stating that the economy is improving and that the country is developing. When asked? Argument? Win and win the situation. Whereas it is the latest occupation pattern of debt relief tactics.

    I'm not racist. But this is one of the biggest threats to other Asian countries. In the past we were colonized by Portuguese, Dutch, English, Japanese, Spanish and American. Now one of our Asian friends. Become a colonizer of the modern age by using lending tactics to poor countries.
    What else do I want to tell you. Indeed, China is a threat to the world today. 🙂

  18. The UN has a responsibility to administer the results of the International Court which declared Chinas claim as illegal.

  19. Nobody is going to do anything about it. The Chinese government says “ Weeee sowwwwy” and smile but they are scheming 50 years ahead of what everyone thinks.

  20. As long there is like Duterte and the likes including US corporation who succumbs to China money..China will expand….they want to have it all including the "english language" lol

  21. All Asian Nations must refuse to recognize China's Claim and move into the South China Seas together jointly do this now

  22. Send all Chinese back to China. Let the Chinese quarrel with each other, the population and the military. If the citizens want to travel let them place press their own government.

  23. Confiscate all Chinese property in Asian countries covering the South China Sea,. Use these funds to build up their military and move into the South China Sea in unison and in numbers.

  24. Don't be bullied by the Chinese Government. They have no religion as a base to learn common human decency. Close your doors to all Mainlanders, send them home. Bach Com Law, Business Admin Perth W.A

  25. Please please everyone we all know why the Chinese are concentrating in the South China Sea………they are looking for the megaladon…..

  26. Don't you know that UN composed of 5 members? USA, France, U.K., Russia & China. Each of them have their own area of jurisdictions to avoid conflict. So they have to mind their own. Anyone goes to attempt to enter its premises without proper forum will be a compromised. That's what happened today in Asia. My Question is, are 4 UN allows China to enter their jurisdictions & make something special for them? Absolutely NO! Unless the UN majority favors for it!

  27. China had claims of that piece of sea at least since Republic of China so… so either Taiwan or mainland China have claim to those islands legally.

  28. The World must send old ships into disputed waters in the SCS and land on all MAN-MADE ISLANDS China illegally made. The world should give back these islands to its recognized owners under the UN, after signing an agreement to mutually benefit both parties.

  29. but the rule of " stronge dominates weak " was taught by USA
    After watching the video what I learned is no matter what america do america will always be known as "HERO".

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