A remote archipelago in the South China Sea has come under an extraordinary amount of scrutiny lately. Here, China is building up small reefs and atolls into whole artificial islands—all in hotly disputed territory. In the clearest sign yet of its military intentions, one of those islands now has an airstrip. »
It seems strange that a remote patch of water would become the focus of international controversy and millions of dollars worth of infrastructure. But that’s exactly what’s happening in the South China Sea right now.
The Spratly Islands are basically mounds of sand in the middle of the South China Sea, some of them barely tall enough to reach above the water. But China is hell-bent on making them inhabitable, even drawing up plans for floating energy and water plants. It has nothing to do with the islands themselves and everything… »
After flying a surveillance plane over the South China Sea last February, the Philippine government saw how China was constructing islands in order to bolster its claim to the territory. (See above.) It even suspected that China might plan to build a military air strip to protect them. Looks like they were right. »
Pity the poor mapmaker assigned to the South China Sea. The hotly disputed waters in the Pacific are torn between competing claims from all the countries that surround it. China, especially, has been aggressive and sly. It's now dumping sand onto small reefs and shoals, building whole new islands to bolster its… »
As China continues its controversial claim-staking throughout Asia, a corner of the academic world is becoming an unlikely focal point in the dispute: Archaeology. More specifically, the thousands of shipwrecks that litter the South China Sea—which China is aggressively claiming as evidence to back up its right to… »