Beijing’s Not the Only One: Vietnam’s South China Sea Island Reclamation Expanding, Think Tank Says

A Beijing-based think tank has called attention to extensive land reclamation efforts and military upgrades on a set of islands in the South China Sea controlled by Vietnam. While China is often faulted by the US and its allies for similar efforts aimed at solidifying its claims over the area, Hanoi or Taiwan aren’t given the same attention.

Vietnam’s land reclamation on several South China Sea islands has continued in recent years, and reclaimed land is being fitted out with new military installations, too, the South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a think tank connected to Peking University, has revealed.

A set of recent tweets by SCSPI has brought attention to recent changes on Sand Cay and Storm (Spratly) Island, two islands occupied by Vietnam in the Spratly Islands archipelago. 

​Since 2011, Vietnam has doubled the size of both islands, adding 9 acres to Sand Cay and 40 acres to Storm Island. In all, Hanoi occupies 27 “features” in the Spratly Islands, 10 of which are islets; the rest are platforms mounted on submerged rocks and reefs, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington, DC think tank.

Trung Nguyen, international relations dean at Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities, told US state-owned Voice of America in 2019 that Hanoi has deliberately kept its actions quieter and smaller in scope.

“The Vietnamese government has made it very clear they just reclaim the islands for…

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