China Constructs Airbase on Disputed Islands in South China Sea

Satellite images reveal China's construction of a runway on a contested island in the South China Sea.

18/08/2023 - 19:49
Source: Sky News
Source: Sky News

Recent satellite photographs have shown ongoing construction by China of a runway on Triton Island, a territory within the disputed Paracel archipelago. This island is subject to territorial claims by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan, as reported by citing the Associated Press.

The Paracel archipelago, spanning 15,000 square kilometers, comprises around 130 small coral islands and reefs. It is situated at a relatively equal distance from the coasts of Vietnam and China's island province of Hainan.

While China had maintained a presence on Triton Island for several years with structures hosting radar grids and a helipad, the recent construction of a runway became evident through satellite imagery in early August. The satellite images depict a runway measuring over 600 meters in length. Although this size can accommodate turboprop planes and drones, it remains inadequate for hosting fighter jets or bombers.

Furthermore, the images distinctly capture a significant number of vehicle tracks crisscrossing the island, along with the presence of containers and heavy construction machinery.

The history of the Paracel archipelago is marked by the Battle of the Paracel Islands in January 1974, during the closing stages of the Vietnam War. This clash involving the Vietnamese Navy and the Chinese Navy determined actual control over the region in favor of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Presently, China, Vietnam, and Taiwan all assert de jure sovereignty over the Paracel Islands.



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