China's Military Activity on Spratly Islands
Fast militarization of the Spratlys seen from space
Since 2013 China has been building artificial islands in the South China Sea, causing a major upset on the international political scene. The Chinese maritime ambitions in the South China Sea represent a longstanding territorial struggle in the region. The purpose of the Chinese activity is to establish the Chinese control over the region and further strengthen Chinese presence in the South China Sea.
Following satellite imagery, accessed via Spaceknow Analytics, shows Chinese activity at three locations in the South China Sea — at the Hughes Reef, the Johnson South Reef and the Cuarteron Reef.
Although the Spratly Islands are controlled by China, the ownership of the Spratlys is disputed by five other nations — the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Only recently the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled against China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea. The arbitration case was filed by the Philippines in 2013 and the status of the Spratly Islands was one of its major issues.
Why is the region important?
The South China Sea is a major transit point for maritime trade and shipping. In fact, huge amounts of energy supplies and oil pass through the area as well as almost a half of the world’s merchant fleet.
Not only that the control over the South China Sea would give China an immense power on the international political scene but also any conflict in the area would be devastating to the world economy, influencing the worldwide stock and consumer prices.