tookapic / Pixabay China is defying world and international laws and island-making fuels their expansionist drive. The communist government is deaf to the US’s red line warnings and continues the work carried out by the arsenal of boats and excavators, since 2013 building another artificial island on which it places not only its flag, but above all its weapons. By doing so, China – and its state-owned fishing and oil companies – are already claiming sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and all resources found on the fringes of these new pieces of land, ignoring the interests of other countries in the area.
The South China Sea adjacent to the Pacific Ocean covers 3.5 million square kilometers, which is equivalent to the EU as a whole (excluding Spain and Portugal).
New islands, new conflicts
Admiral Harry Harris described this Chinese practice as “building a Great Wall of Sand.” It’s like creating a new territory in international waters between the Strait of Gibraltar and Morocco. By creating new islands, China comes into conflict with Taiwan to the north, the Philippines to the east, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei to the south, and Vietnam to the west. To implement the plan, China once again used its crown jewel – Tian Kun Hao – Asia’s largest ship, called the “creator of the magic islands”. It is a dredger that, by building new islands, is able to dig large sections of the seabed and move them up to 15 kilometers. It can drill 6,000 cubic meters of material per hour and reach 35 meters below the sea surface. Cuts seabed material, sand, coral or mud. The actions of the Middle Kingdom authorities worry the rest of the world. Nicolas Chaillan, a former technology guru at the Pentagon, even said, “We’re close to the new Pearl Harbor.” Fernando Cortiñas, professor at IE Business School in Madrid, explains that the project of the new artificial island is nothing more than an extension of the Silk Road and the desire to drive the United States out of the global scene. It is no coincidence that the US Marines, while trying to maneuver with Japan, dust the military strategy manuals on the islands that they used during World War II. According to Cortiñas, China’s maritime growth may mean conflicts with Japan in the East China Sea, with India in the Indian Ocean, and with the United States in the Pacific. They will also cover other smaller countries in the region. In turn, according to Inés Arco, a researcher at Cidob (Spanish think tank dealing with research in the field of international relations), 80 percent of world trade passes through this area, which is why the Chinese movement is important. “The construction of artificial islands and civil infrastructure works have a dual use, that is, they can also be used for military purposes if the situation so requires. Moreover, it is important to emphasize the negative impact of these activities on the environment, ”explains Arco.
Devastation of the marine environment
Víctor Yepes, PhD in Civil Engineering, Canals and Ports and Professor of Structural Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Valencia explains that ‘in artificial islands, the construction processes have a tremendous impact on the environment because they involve taking materials from the seabed’. Dredgers like Tian Kun Hao have a submersible cutting head (cutter) and suction devices, he adds. The technique used by Tian Kun Hao can be visualized as building a lagoon surrounded by a retaining wall of corals. “They bring boats into this lagoon, put sand, concrete, stones and pump water out of this coral line. They deepen the outer periphery of the island, creating deep-sea harbors where ships dock, ”says Cortiñas.
China’s South China Sea?
China is inclined to take the Chinese Sea by recreating the map from 1947. According to Cortiñas, China wants to take over the South China Sea at all costs, because it means huge gas and oil resources and the ability to control the flow of ships that supply, among others, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Observing the fear that the energy blackmail of Russia is sowing among European politicians, China wants to follow the path of economic terror. About two billion people live in this area, or one third of the world’s population. According to international regulations, a country owning an island is entitled to resources within a radius of up to 370 kilometers around it. This is the Chinese trick. According to representatives of the US military, China is placing anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems on artificial islands. According to Beijing, military development is necessary because the Americans have their warships deployed in the South China Sea. The tense situation is not improved by the actions of the Russians, who – to support China – sent their ships to this region.
What happens in the South China Sea can also happen in the Pacific. The fact that Tian Kun Hao is back in action means China has not abandoned its imperialist tendencies. According to Cortiñas, the solution to the “Chinese problem” should not be put off until later, as it may be too late after that. Especially since the Sino-Russian cooperation is gaining momentum, and as Chinese President Xi Jinping assured at the June economic forum in St. Petersburg, this year trade between the two countries will be at a record high level.