TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – China continues to expand and militarize across the South China Sea, contradicting numerous guarantees made to numerous countries, and also endangering the region’s natural habitat with excessive island-building.
Taiwan’s Military News Agency (MNA) released a photo on Saturday (June 8) of the Gaven Reef (南薰礁) located in the Spratly Island Chain. The photo, taken aboard a Taiwanese military vessel, clearly shows Chinese forces have been busy expanding the size of the features, and building more facilities on the reef.
Gaven Reef is located just 30 kilometers southwest from Taiwan’s Taiping Island, and China’s growing military presence there, if unchecked, may provide a strategic base to launch an attack on Taiwanese forces in the South China Sea.
Gaven Reef, 2016 photo from Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
Map from Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (modified)
The MNA also photographed another nearby island, Namyit Island, occupied by Vietnam, located 20 kilometers from Taiping Island. While Vietnam’s construction on Namyit is less than China’s activity on Gaven Reef, Vietnam is also working to expand infrastructure on its territories in the region.
Namyit Island (MNA photo)
Both islands have established long range telecom towers, and they are both frequently visited by various ships, either delivering cargo, or engaging in engineering operations to reclaim land or build infrastructure around the islands. On Namyit Island, Vietnam has reportedly built wind turbines, reports Liberty Times.