fredag 17. januar 2020

Are China’s South China Sea Artificial Islands Militarily Significant and Useful?

Are China’s seven artificial islands in the Spratly Group in the South China Sea liable to complicate U.S. freedom of maneuver in a conflict in East Asia? In a recent article at War on the Rocks, Gregory Poling makes the case that the islands have “considerable military value for Beijing,” contrary to some conventional wisdom that has written off the value of these facilities in a conflict.

Poling’s argument is a convincing corrective to the conventional wisdom that these facilities — built on top of reclaimed land and quickly too — would be a strategic liability for Beijing in a conflict. In peacetime, these outposts serve to allow China coercive leverage as it bolsters its “nine-dash line” claim in the South China Sea, where the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Taiwan maintain territorial claims (and Indonesia maintains a disputed exclusive economic zone claim).