Date
6 December 2016
Vietnam's actions are apparently in response to China's island building in the South China Sea, according to a US think tank. Photo: CSIS
Vietnam's actions are apparently in response to China's island building in the South China Sea, according to a US think tank. Photo: CSIS

Vietnam expanding South China Sea runway, says US think tank

Vietnam is extending a runway on an island it claims in the South China Sea in apparent response to China’s building of military facilities on artificial islands in the region.

Satellite images taken this month showed Vietnam had lengthened its runway on Spratly Island from less than 760 meters to more than one kilometer, Reuters reports, citing the Washington’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).

AMTI, a project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said continued reclamation work would likely mean the runway was extended to more than 1.2 km.

It said the upgraded runway would be able to accommodate maritime surveillance aircraft and transport planes, as well as combat aircraft.

The report said Vietnam had added about 23 hectares of land to Spratly Island in recent years but its reclamation work remained modest by Chinese standards.

China has built military-length runways on three artificial islands it has built up in the South China Sea since 2013.

Reuters reported in August that Vietnam had discreetly fortified several of its islands in the disputed South China Sea with mobile rocket launchers capable of striking China’s runways and military installations across the vital trade route.

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