The following is based on translations from Chinese media:
On February 12, I said in my post “China to Build US$5 Billion South China Sea Military Base at Fiery Cross Reef” that according to an informed source, China would spend US$5 billion to build a military base and a fishery/fish farming base respectively on Fiery Cross and Mischief Reefs.
Before that, the PLA had drawn up a plan to seize Zhongye Island back from the Philippines for control of the South China Sea but the central authority did not approve the plan.
As the military base will serve as an unsinkable aircraft carrier in the middle of the South China Sea, the cost of US$5 billion is not excessive.
Soon afterward this, there were reports that China was conducting intensive reclamation on some reefs in the South China Sea including Johnson South, Cuarteron, Hughes, Gaven and Eldad Reefs. The artificial island built on Cuarteron Reef seemed the largest.
On September 2, I said in my post “The Conundrum of China’s Haste in Building Artificial Islands on Disputed Reefs” that unexpectedly, the artificial island on Cuarteron Reef was the largest island. At that time, there was no news about the intensive reclamation on Fiery Cross Reef that began in August.
In 1988, China built a structure for a garrison on that reef. Before that, Fiery Cross Reef was just a rock in the South China Sea. After less than 3 months of reclamation, there is now an artificial island of 0.96 square kilometres, bigger than the Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island of 0.5 square kilometres, which was previously the largest island in the Spratly group.
Informed source says that the artificial island is being expanded to the size of 2 kilometres for an air and naval base. As the reef is located in the middle of the South China Sea, the base on the artificial island will enable China to control the entire South China Sea.
What about the artificial islands being built on other six reefs? It is likely that they will be used for fishery, fish farming and tourism to bring economic returns for China’s huge investment in the reclamation.
However, it is possible that China will turn all of them into military bases for overwhelming military superiority there. Due to such superiority, except for the United States, no countries will dare to fight a war with China in the disputed sea areas there.Source: huanqiu.com – “China has turned Fiery Cross Reef into the largest island in the Spratly, bigger than Taiwan’s Taiping Island” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)
- China to build South China Sea military base in waters claimed by Philippines and Vietnam (chinadailymail.com)
- China continues advance into South China Sea; military base to be built on artificial island (chinadailymail.com)
- Chinese media: China will challenge the US in South China Sea (chinadailymail.com)
- China’s plans to control South China Sea; Philippines and Vietnam are just the beginning (chinadailymail.com)
- China rebuffs U.S. efforts on South China Sea tensions (chinadailymail.com)
- China Turns a Rock into the Largest Island in the Spratly as Military Base (tiananmenstremendousachievements.wordpress.com)
- China’s dark designs after 25 years of seizing Johnson South Reef (vietnamfeatures.com)
- Fiery Cross Reef now largest of Spratlys after PLA land reclamation (wantchinatimes.com)
- China’s Naval Chief Visited Disputed Islands in the South China Sea, Taiwan Says (sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com)
- China ready to establish ADIZ in South China Sea | WantChinaTimes.com (1913intel.com)