“Piling Sand in a Disputed Sea, China Literally Gains Ground”
The New York Times, April 9, 2015, p.A1
“The clusters of Chinese vessels busily dredge white sand and pump it onto partly submerged coral, aptly named Mischief Reef, transforming it into an island. … China has long asserted ownership of the archipelago in the South China Sea known as the Spratly Islands, also claimed by at least three other countries, including the Philippines, an American ally. But the series of detailed photographs taken of Mischief Reef shows the remarkable speed, scale and ambition of China’s effort to literally gain ground in the dispute. The photographs show that since January, China has been dredging enormous amounts of sand from around the reef and using it to build up land mass — what military analysts at the Pentagon are calling ‘facts on the water’ — hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland. The Chinese have clearly concluded that it is unlikely anyone will challenge them in an area believed rich in oil and gas and, perhaps more important, strategically vital. … The issue poses a problem for the Obama administration, not simply because the Philippines is a treaty ally. China is working so quickly that its assertion of sovereignty could become a fait accompli before anything can be done to stop it.”
Quickie analysis: A nice update on some of the various territorial disputes in the South China Sea.