China, which lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea, despite overlapping territorial claims in the waterway from at least six other governments, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Taiwan, has been building up reefs and sandbars into fortified man-made artificial islands since 2014.
The Chinese military bases constructed on artificial islands in the contested South China Sea waterway are too small, too distant from the mainland and too vulnerable to potential enemy strikes, according to a Beijing-based monthly magazine, Naval and Merchant Ships.
Published by the country’s State Shipbuilding Corporation, which builds naval vessels associated with the People’s Liberation Army, the outlet is quoted by South China Morning Post as saying the sites had an undeniable role in asserting Beijing’s claim over about nine-tenths of the South China Sea.
Certain parts of the strategic hydrocarbon and fishing resources-rich body of water, which is also home to vital shipping lanes, feature in a spate of overlapping claims from countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan, leading to disputes with Beijing.
China has been increasingly assertive over what it insists are its centuries-old claims to the contested region, turning islands and reefs in the South China Sea into military bases and airstrips to back up those claims.
While convenient for the needs of intelligence gathering and reconnaissance, the inherent…