China 'building airstrip' on disputed reef

Philippines accuses China of reclaiming land to build an airstrip on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

    The Spratly Islands are also claimed by neighbouring China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei [Al Jazeera]
    The Spratly Islands are also claimed by neighbouring China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei [Al Jazeera]

    The Philippine foreign ministry has accused China of reclaiming land on a disputed reef in the South China Sea and said it appeared to be building an airstrip.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose told Reuters news agency on Wdnesday that China had been moving earth and materials to Johnson Reef in the Spratly Islands over recent weeks.

    It also said China was reclaiming land in violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, an informal code of conduct for the region. 

    The ministry had already lodged a protest with the Chinese and raised the issue behind closed doors at last weekend's summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations in Myanmar, Jose said.

    A senior Philippine government official, who spoke to AP news agency on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk about the issue, said China could be building an offshore military and resupply and refuelling hub.

    The government estimates that the reclamation has turned the submerged reef and a sand bar into a 30-hectare land mass that transformed the underwater outcrop into an islet, a senior Philippino diplomat told the AP on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to discuss the issue.

    It is the latest territorial spat between the Asian neighbours that have ratcheted tensions in the potentially oil and gas-rich region, which also straddles one of the world's busiest sea lanes.

    Vietnam and China have separately been engaged in a dangerous standoff off the Paracels Island after Beijing deployed a mobile oil rig backed by dozens of security vessels.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Life after death row: The pastor praying for Nigeria's prisoners

    The Nigerian pastor adapting to life after death row

    Clinton Kanu spent 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, but life on the outside feels far from free.

    What it means to love a dead child

    What it means to love a dead child

    You must forget all you thought you knew about grief when the landscape of your life has been demolished.

    'Butchered': The Kenyan FGM clinic serving Europeans

    'Butchered': The Kenyan FGM clinic serving Europeans

    Kenya banned FGM in 2011, but Europeans still bring their daughters to underground clinics there to be cut.