War in the oceans of the Far East is becoming more likely. Having decided to ignore the international arbitration ruling that their sovereignty claims over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea were inferior compared to those of the Philippines, China is continuing with its “island building” or rather “air strip” building on several of the reefs there.
Digitalglobe satellite imagery released by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative clearly shows full length runways, armoured aircraft hangars and new unknown structures which are thought to be the beginnings of surface-to-air and satellite-targeted anti-shipping missile emplacements.
Apart from reinforcing China’s territorial claims which could give them access to mineral wealth, and access to 10 per cent of the world’s fish stocks, China is thought to be building these “unsinkable aircraft carriers” on the reclaimed reefs in order to control the ocean and its trade. Aircraft and missiles flown from these air strip bases could be used to ward off the formidable US Navy aircraft carrier groups should China ever wish to invade the islands in the South China Sea including Taiwan.
China makes disputed claims over several island groups in the South and East China Seas which are also variously claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and Japan. China also claims sovereignty over the island of Taiwan (Formosa) itself, it having broken away after the communist revolution in China.
While China’s claims over Taiwan may have more merit than its other territorial claims, Taiwan’s citizens want to stay independent of China and remain in a democracy. The apparently increasingly belligerent China may yet decide to force the issue. China has invaded nations before, most notably Tibet in 1950, which it continues to occupy.