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'Great Wall of Sand' Erected by China in Contested Waters: Report

By    |   Thursday, 02 Apr 2015 03:13 PM

China is dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea by building a “great wall of sand” to create a land mass, and the practice is concerning at least one U.S. official.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris addressed the issue of China’s decision to ignore claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan in a recent Australian speech.

“When one looks at China's pattern of provocative actions towards smaller claimant states — the lack of clarity on its sweeping nine-dash line claim that is inconsistent with international law and the deep asymmetry between China’s capabilities and those of its smaller neighbors — well it’s no surprise that the scope and pace of building man-made islands raise serious questions about Chinese intentions,” Harris said in the speech.

Harris, speaking at the 94th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force, said China has created about 1.5 square miles of artificial landmass by “pumping sand on to live coral reefs — some of them submerged — and paving over them with concrete.”



"How China proceeds will be a key indicator of whether the region is heading toward confrontation or cooperation," Harris said.

China has claimed sovereignty over the area and said in 2014 that its actions were “totally justified,” the BBC reported.

But tensions are escalating. The Philippines has filed a complaint with the United Nations in its Permanent Court of Arbitration and, when China moved a drilling rig into waters off the Paracel Islands, Vietnam was angered and anti-Chinese violence broke out.

Bloomberg View said the increase in tension in the area, as well as China’s build-up of infrastructure and militarization of the South China Sea, demands attention from the Obama administration.

“Satellite photos released last month show that in the past year, China has built several entirely new islands in disputed waters using land-reclamation technology, and then constructed military-friendly facilities on them,” Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin wrote.

“In the Spratly Islands, new Chinese land masses have been equipped with helipads and anti-aircraft towers, raising regional concerns that Beijing is using thinly veiled military coercion to establish control in an area where six Asian nations have claims.”

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China is dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea by building a “great wall of sand” to create a land mass, and the practice is concerning at least one U.S. official.
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2015-13-02
Thursday, 02 Apr 2015 03:13 PM
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