Home » Aviation » Report: Chinese Complete Runway on Reclaimed South China Sea Island

Report: Chinese Complete Runway on Reclaimed South China Sea Island

Airstrip construction on the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea is pictured in this April 2, 2015.

Airstrip construction on the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea is pictured in this April 2, 2015.

China has completed a 10,000 foot runway on a reclaimed island in the South China Sea, according to a new round of satellite photos released Friday.

The completed runway on Fiery Cross Reef could soon be operational and accelerate additional construction on the reclaimed island, according to a Friday report in Jane’s Defence Weekly.

The island in the Spratly chain is in a central location in the South China Sea about 400 miles from Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines and a likely key component of the China’s South China Sea strategy.

“Fiery Cross Reef is the most extensive new landmass built by China in the Spratly Islands and is believed to be the future hub for its operations in the southern reaches of the South China Sea,” read the report.
“As such, creation of the island’s underlying structure has taken longer than more modest outposts in the area.”

In addition the runway, the Fiery Cross installation also appears to have a deep water port and could serve as a logistics hub for the People’s Liberation Army Navy warships.

The installations are the practical expression of China’s claim to sovereignty of the South China Sea which is disputed by neighboring countries as well as the United States.

“By giving China the means to enforce its expansive ‘dashed-line’ claim, the new islands also challenge international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” according to Jane’s analysis.
“The Philippines’ case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague argues that the dashed line has “no basis in international law.”

In a Senate hearing last week, U.S. officials expressed concern over China’s island building camping and its potential to change the balance of power in the region and a potential expansion of presence and freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea.

“Preventing the Chinese from further militarizing those features a range of options — including freedom of navigation exercises — and we’re considering those options now,” the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David Shear told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) last week.
“The Chinese have not yet placed advanced weaponry on those features and we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that they don’t. This is going to be a long term effort, there are no silver bullets in this effort but we are certainly complicating Chinese calculations already.”

U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris gave the SASC his assessment of what militarization of the facilities might mean.

“If you look at all of these facilities — and you could imagine a network of missiles sites, runways for their fifth generation fighters and surveillance sites and all that — it creates a mechanism in which China would have de facto control over the South China Sea in any scenario short of war,” Harris said.

“These are obviously easy targets in war, it’s what we call in the military, ‘grapes’ if you will, but short of that, the militarization of these features pose a threat against all other countries in the region.”

  • Don Bacon

    Preventing the Chinese from further militarizing those features a range of options — good luck on that — goals ought to be achievable or don’t set them. And how do
    obviously easy targets become threats?
    To dream … the impossible dream … To fight … the unbeatable foe . … To reach … the unreachable star … This is my quest, … Cervantes.
    The US SCS strategy is nonsensical, which is nothing new.

  • bob

    I guess they want Japan building up against them.

  • Chief Mac

    China should never have been allowed to get this far.

    • sferrin

      You forget who’s running things in Washington. Putin’s stole his lunch money so many times the only people who are afraid of Obama anymore are the taxpayers.

      • Chief Mac

        There’s a light at the end of this tunnel. I just haven’t figured out if it’s the dawn or a Class Charlie fire.

        • Curtis Conway

          No, I think it will be a Class Delta fire.

  • Chinese are people too.

    • James

      Yep so were the Nazi’s, the mongols, the Communist etc.

      Together all of these groups managed to kill, rape, murder, and starve to death something like 200,000,000 people or more.

  • Rob C.

    I hope conflict does not accrue, it won’t be good for any ones including people on the front lines.

    From other news medias, this all about politics in Beijing not military conquest. Distracting their people.

    I agree that they should not have created military island airfield in some else territory. They should have prevented, its just there cost coming for it if this isn’t resolved.

  • Bruzilla

    I gotta wonder how this place is going to hold up. It’s not the top of a volcano or submerged mountain. This is just piles of sand, coral, and rock, and gravity tends to pull that stuff down over time. Add wave action and earthquakes and I don’t see these “islands” lasting very long.

  • SSMcDonald

    Not mentioned are the approximate 81,543 Chinese that perished building this place.

    • sferrin


      • Secundius

        @ sreffin.

        Reference Source, was from 10 November 1888. Building the Topeka Kansas State Capitol Building and the State Courthouse. The reference was about 81,543-ton’s of Bricks used in the Construction of the Two Structures and the Chinese Railroad Labor Force to Build Them…

  • gene

    The next typhoon will take care of this..there is a reason that the islands are uninhabited. Note the grass area-did they build a golf course?

  • sferrin

    “Peaceful rise”

  • Bob USAF(ret)

    Pretty soon the Millennials will see who left wingers, aka communists, socialists, etc are.

    • flowers_for_all_p0liticians

      No they won’t, it’ll be like wow maaan check that mushroom cloud out. Cooool!

      • TAG

        and you’ll see as many gadgets as fried faces. (taking selfies)

  • Charlie Stump

    All the world’s bad actors are emboldened by the incompetence of the Obama administration.

    • Chris

      Why yes, and the GOP’s staunch support of trade agreements funded the islands construction and wiped out our middle class. Bravo!

      • Guillermo


      • Eric Swank

        Wow, someone really understands that the 1% sold out the other 99% for profit. And that is the way the ball bounces as it has been throughout the ages and shall always be the way of man.

    • Ken N

      Not sure what the “incompetence” of Obama has to do with this….but ok. I mean what do hacks like you really want him to do?? Actually start bombing the sites and start a global catastrophe?? Its also kinda hard to cry foul against China when other countries have already done the same thing in the SCS.

      • Bill S

        Please list the island sites that “other countries” have constructed in the SCS, and by which countries. Although I agree with you that it is not from incompetence. Rather it is a deliberate, blatant disregard of China’s aggrandizement intentions, and international law, in this very strategically important region of the world. Check out YTKN2ME below.

  • britbob

    For some interesting ICJ judgments and legal opinions on territorial seas Google: ‘Falklands Territorial Waters Academia/BritBob’ and get an understanding as to why China might be reluctant to go to arbitration over her South China Sea claims.

  • Mr Flippy

    In other news, Japan has modified its “peace” constitution. Stand by to watch the reawakening of Bushido.

    • flowers_for_all_p0liticians

      I’ll see your bushido and raise you 2 jihads

    • Je Suis Chien

      Thank God.
      Real men will prevail over the headchopping deviants, I assure you.

    • Michael Nunez

      Will not happen ….. .

  • OldWestRules

    Bomb those commie bastards for invading open international waters. UN is a joke!

  • Boy, I sure would like to know the carbon footprint that went into building that puppy, especially since the Chinese president just visited Obama to talk about what else but….GLOBAL WARMING! What a joke. What hypocrites! What BS.

    • turn kit

      Obama’s probably not worried about it ‘cuz he thinks raising sea waters will take it out. smh.

  • flowers_for_all_p0liticians

    And the world “super power” the “protector of freedom and justice and its allies” said what…. Hold on… There it is, crickets.

  • TAG

    I still think investments in CS gas cannisters and grenades, and razor ribbon will pay short term dividends.

  • Monique

    “The Chinese have not yet placed advanced weaponry on those features and we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that they don’t.”

    And what can you do? Nothing.

    • sferrin

      Given that it’s not Chinese territory there’s nothing from preventing a Marine Amphibious group from pulling up and landing for a big BBQ. What could China do? Complain? But that window is closing. Once they’ve piled weapons on those new “islands” it will be a done deal


    It’s not “reclaimed”, it’s “created”. Such as, not “undocumented”, “illegial”.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    Gee, if they’d only announce that they have intentions of planting ‘rain forests’ on these islands as they build them, the usual suspects will line up behind them!

  • wfraser11

    Hi Sam. Malaysia, VietNam and the Philippines do not have the resources or military capability to counter this Chinese activity. Taiwan and Japan at least have the military resources to strengthen the local air and missile capabilities of Asean in the Spratlys.
    How about a little coverage of the airfields and base support capabilities currently of
    islands in the Spratlys controlled by ASEAN and especially Taiwan.
    I’d like to know more about the potential balance of power in case of a buildup by both sides, no matter how unlikely or likely.
    Thanks and keep up the interesting work.

  • Michael Nunez

    Asean is running around with their Tail’s between their leg’s , The Philippines has stopped all funding to their Military . Australia doesn’t know how to build their Armed Forces up . Japan is the only Country in the ECS , and the SCS besides the deployed U.S. Forces with any courage or the means to confront China . Vietnam has courage , but they are a Totalitarian Regime also, Like China . Looks like we change our trade routes or there will be War…… !

  • Tony

    Since its creation in 1949 the People’s Republic has increased its territory by fifty percent, forcibly incorporating Xinjiang, Tibet, the Paracel Islands and much of the South China Sea; a ferocious appetite worthy of one other historical comparison, the United States.
    China is not the first rising power to claim their own version of Manifest Destiny nor will it be the last. Left unchallenged at some point in the next thirty years we may expect a ‘doctrine’ and it will not be Monroe’s.
    “The Aztlan Protocol” a brilliant depiction of where all this is going should be read by anyone with an interest in this subject. Sometimes it is easier for those in the know to tell the truth through fiction, if you get what I mean. Anyway, Alderic Au certainly knows of what he speaks

  • Chris

    It is always stupid when it is true.

    • jaz

      Um, no. Truth makes sense. You just misheard it when your teachers told you you’re always stupid when you open your mouth.

      • Chris

        Touche! Word salad for the win!

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    Maybe we should build a couple of American islands around the world to support our ships and aircraft then we would not have to paid for basing rights. Or just buy some islands from other countries

  • Marjus

    Yup, being passive with an indecisive Commander in Chief means everything even with the greatest military force in history. It encourages everyone to take what they can get away with, islands, airspace, heck, prop up chemical weapon using dictators, invade and annex territories from neighbors, legitimize nuclear programs, hack and steal everything in the United States, fund global terrorism, the list goes on and on and on until this miserable and utter failure of a President leaves office on January 20th, 2017!

  • Hugh

    China doesn’t just want the resources, it wants to control the region if not a lot more. It doesn’t think the Western way, and doesn’t care. International law, which China is signatory to, preserves 12 nautical miles sovereignty offshore plus 200 nautical miles exclusive economic use offshore, or where another country is close then to the midpoint between those countries. The 9 (or 10) dash line has no standing. The courts also allow claims extending out to the continental shelf. Land that is permanently above high water can be claimed and included to bolster a country’s maritime area. Hence the vigour of disputed islands. However artificial reclamation is not recognised for these purposes. Therefore freedom of passage remains a right, and furthermore, innocent passage is also internationally recognised as permitted. Roll on the international courts to make a ruling, covering all areas as soon as possible, with or without China’s participation. But then, how do you get rid of a squatter? And if that squatter barricades local laneways and is armed and threatening the original neighbours?? And what are the next steps in the plan???

  • olesalt

    Timely (NOW) for US State Department, Department of Defence /Navy/Air Force & Army) together with effected countries in the South China Sea to discuss the dire situations, and seriously consider Collective Security Agreement. India could also be considered joining (as an Associate perhaps), as it has interests in joint oil exploration in Vietnam, & freedom of safe passage of Indian Commercial & Naval ships thru’ the waters in region. Of course, the Diplomats must continue to discuss with China, but within a limited time frame, for actual solutions to be implemented (if there are). If no progress – then take Collective Action – Military “Coalition of the Willing” to patrol and keep waters and airspace free from Chinese interference. No half measures by the US, but to act decisively with partners: Japan, Australia, Philippines, Vietnam & other regional interested parties.

  • disqus_zommBwspv9

    The lack of America’s support for The Philiphines, and the other countries in the area is sad. Did not the Philiphines want to get new Korean Inchoen class frigates and coastal patrol vessels but we want to sell them Perry class frigates. now the PI has cancel almost everything. Looks like to me some in in Chinese pocket

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