Hong Kong media reported Monday, April 25 that as China seeks to project its power in the disputed West Philippine sea (South China sea) The Chinese is now preparing for the reclamation and construction on Panatag shoal (Scarborough shoal). An islet inside the exclusive economic zone claimed by the Philippines.
The South China Morning Post daily newspaper cited an anonymous source near the People’s Liberation Army saying, “No one can stop us” We will set-up a station on Scarborough Shoal, otherwise called Bajo de Masinloc, 230 kilometers (143 miles) off the Philippine coast. It is claimed by Manila but has been under Beijing’s control since 2012,
China’s plans to build up Scarborough Shoal also could be a response to an international court ruling anticipated later this month or early next month that is expected to rule in favor of Manila’s claims to the Spratlys.
It likewise takes after a declaration by the US and the Philippines that they would dispatch joint maritime patrol in the West Philippine sea.
China may also be moving quickly to build up Scarborough Shoal over concerns the next U.S. president will be tougher on Chinese maritime expansion.
U.S. Military analyst said that in order to get ahead of this potential confrontation, China will move this year to slice off the next piece of salami—the uninhabited shoals like at Scarborough.”
Scarborough was once used by the U.S. Navy as a bombing range in the early 1980s, something that could complicate the Chinese development plan.
Below is details of the militarization plan for Scarborough Shoal in the Spratly Islands were obtained by U.S. intelligence agencies over the last several months, according to defense officials.
The plans were confirmed last month when a website for Chinese military enthusiasts posted a detailed dredging plan for Scarborough Shoal, including a runway, power systems, residences, and harbor capable of supporting Chinese navy warships.
The website included satellite photographs purportedly based on a construction bid proposed by the “Huangyan Island Township,” a municipality created under what China claims is its regional authority on Sansha Island, located near China’s Hainan Island.
A graphic with one photo outlined the development plan, with three Chinese guided-missile frigates at a wharf at the southern opening of the shoal.
Other features include an airport and runway at the northern end, an electrical plan, a water treatment plant, a residential building, a hotel, and a “travel holiday” area.
The reported plan to develop and militarize Scarborough Shoal, however, has set off warning bells in both the Pentagon and State Department because of the area’s proximity to the Philippines, a U.S. treaty ally that recently agreed to enhance defense cooperation in the face of Chinese aggression.
Because of this report, six U.S. military aircraft that stayed behind at Clark Air Base after the 2016 Balikatan exercises have conducted a fly ops in the Scarborough Shoal according to the Pacific Air Forces.
“The A-10s and HH-60s conducted a flying mission through the international airspace in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal west of the Philippines providing air and maritime situational awareness,” said the Pacific Air Forces in a public statement on Thursday.
Also, read this U.S. fighter jets conduct fly ops on Scarborough Shoal
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