Vietnam ramps up South China Sea island expansion, researchers say | Global News

Vietnam ramps up South China Sea island expansion, researchers say

/ 01:26 PM November 17, 2023

Vietnam ramps up South China Sea island expansion

FILE PHOTO: A Vietnamese naval soldier stands guard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea on January 17, 2013. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan all claim territory in the sea, which covers important shipping routes and is thought to hold untapped oil and gas reserves. Picture taken on January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Quang Le/File Photo

HANOI — Vietnam has been ramping up its dredging and landfill work in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, creating another 330 acres of land since December 2022, a US think tank said in a report.

The expansion, much larger than the 120 acres it had created between 2012 and 2022, made Vietnam second only to China in terms of island buildup in the Spratly Islands, Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said in the report this week, citing satellite imagery.


Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


READ:  Vietnam rebukes China, PH over South China Sea conduct

China claims sovereignty over vast swathes of the South China Sea, including the areas where Vietnam has been building up islands.

The sea is one of the world’s most contested waterways, where more than $3 trillion of trade passes each year. China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam have lodged competing claims for some or all of the Spratly Islands.

The recent expansion by Vietnam was the most noticeable at Barque Canada Reef, called Bai Thuyen Chai in Vietnam, where the report, produced by CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), said 210 acres of land was created in the past year.

READ: Vietnam bans ‘Barbie’ movie over South China Sea map

The report said Vietnam had started using cutter suction dredgers to “accelerate its dredging efforts,” and last month, it began dredging at two additional features, including South Reef and Central Reef.


It said Vietnam’s efforts have remained focused on dredging and landfill, with construction of infrastructure yet to begin.

READ: China’s new ‘10-dash line’ map incorporates Taiwan, most of West PH Sea

China created more than 3,200 acres of land from 2013 to 2016 in the area, the think tank said.

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In August, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam rejected a map released by China that denotes its claims to sovereignty including in the South China Sea.

TAGS: South China Sea, Spratly Islands, Vietnam

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