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Chinese reclamation on Mabini Reef likely for military purposes

By: - NewsLab Lead / @MSantosINQ
/ 04:32 PM May 15, 2014

DFA PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—In a span of a year, China has managed to reclaim hectares of water in Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) in the West Philippines Sea and is likely underway in building a military airstrip.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier Thursday released several photos of Mabini Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group showing the reclamation work China has done.

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The first photo, taken March 13, 2012, shows an empty expanse of sea. By February 28, 2013, a concrete structure was already built on the reef with what appears to be a helicopter landing pad.

On February 25, 2014, large amounts of sand were seen on the site reclaiming the surrounding waters of the concrete structure.

The latest photograph on March 11, 2014, shows the entire expanse of water that has been reclaimed making it look like a small island.

Asked whether the Chinese structure on the Mabini reef are civilian or military in nature, DFA spokesman Charles Jose said it will likely serve a military purpose.

“Judging from the other structures put up by China in the South China Sea we can safely presume they are for military purposes, like the structure it put up in Mischief Reef, it’s a military garrison,” he said.

“Judging by the size of the reclamation work they are doing there, we can come up with several possibilities and one of them is they are constructing an airstrip, that’s one of several possibilities,” Jose said.

Jose said the size of the reclaimed land is already “hectares” in size from the single concrete structure seen in 2013.

“These actions are considered destabilizing and in violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and international law,” Jose said.

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TAGS: airstrip, China, Mabini Reef, Philippines, territorial row
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