Wednesday, May 15, 2024

China caught building new 'artificial island' in South China Sea strip as tensions explode

China claims sovereignty over the majority of the South China Sea and has been at odds with several countries, including the Philippines and Taiwan, for decades.

China has been laying the groundwork to build a new artificial island in the contested South China Sea, according to the Philippines.

Jay Tarriela, the head of Manila's Coast Guard, told the press on Monday that his agency is committed to keeping Beijing from "carrying out a successful reclamation of Sabina Shoal."

The shoal, also known as Xianbin Reef in China, is located in the Spratly Islands and is included in the Philippines's exclusive economic zone.

Sabina Shoal has been playing a crucial role in Manila's resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre warship, which the Philippines ran aground in 1999 to use as an outpost in the area.

Philippines leader President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirmed that a Coast Guard vessel had been deployed to the area to "monitor the supposed illegal activities of China, creating an artificial island by destroying coral reefs."

The force also released video it recorded last month allegedly showing large deposits of crushed corals sufficient to affect the elevation of the shoal's sandbars.

Beijing has been pursuing a project of land reclamation for over 14 years, building an estimated seven artificial islands across the Spratly Islands.

Some of the man-made atolls have also been militarised despite President Xi Jinping pledging they wouldn't be to former US president Barack Obama.

Beijing, however, has rejected Manila's claims and accused the government of trying to "vilify" China amid a period of growing tensions between the two nations.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said: "The Philippines has repeatedly spread rumours, deliberately vilified China and tried to mislead the international community. None of those attempts will succeed."