Dredging geopolitics: Moving dirt, silt and sand

Klaus Dodds on some developments in the South China sea.

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Source: http://www.janes.com/article/46083/china-building-airstrip-capable-island-on-fiery-cross-reef

Recently, satellite photos have been released purporting to show the development of a concrete runway in the contested waters of the South China Sea. As with the aerial photographs taken by a U2 spy plane over Cuba in the early 1960s, the released images have unleashed febrile commentary about China’s intentions on Fiery Cross reef in the Spratly Islands archipelago. Accompanied by labels pointing to dredging and construction activity, analysts have concluded that there are plans afoot to develop a 10,000 feet long runway capable of hosting military aircraft. While not as long as the US runway on the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, this investment in geographical engineering is significant.

The current situation in the South China Sea is complex and involves not just the disputed Spratly Islands, which are the subject of contention for China, Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. China, Taiwan…

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