The Chinese government has appropriated $1.6 billion to fortify islands in the South China Sea currently claimed by other nations, notably the Philippines. The fortification plan includes construction of airports, piers and other facilities that could have both civilian and military uses.
The funds were specifically appropriated for the newly established Sansha City under the maritime province of Hainan.
“Sansha’s immediate work is for airports, ports, piers and other important infrastructure as well as law enforcement vessels, supply ships and other projects to be established,” Jiang Dingzhi, governor of Hainan, told the China-based 21st Century Business Herald.
The Philippine government reacted vehemently to reports of the fortification plan.
“Sansha City has been a subject of a Philippine protest as its administrative jurisdiction encompasses Philippine territory and maritime zones in the West Philippine Sea,” the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said a statement issued Dec. 27.
“China’s action to fortify Sansha City is an attempt to reinforce its excessive Nine-Dash [line] claim, which is a violation of international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.
The Chinese military responded to the complaints from the Philippines with a large joint forces exercise Jan. 2 in the South China Sea.
Three days later, a high-ranking Philippine military commander from the Western Command announced that the Philippine government will build an extra large and long airfield runway on the main island of the Kalayaan, in addition to strengthening the military barracks and sentry posts there.
Physicist on a nuclear powered navy
He Zuoxiu, China’s most controversial nuclear physicist is a longtime opponent of land-based nuclear power plants because of fears of nuclear accidents. But now he wants virtually all classes of Chinese navy ships to be powered by nuclear reactors.
His logic is simple: A land-based nuclear accident based in China would kill many Chinese compatriots; but a nuclear mishap on a ship in the open sea would kill far fewer Chinese and the world would have to share the consequences together.
“Why do I oppose to building nuclear power plants in the hinterland?” Mr. He told the Chinese Science Journal in a November interview.
“Because a nuclear accident in the inland area will be catastrophic. And I am, however, for the idea of building the nuke plants closer to the sea coast because once an accident occurs, we can pump and drain the radioactive material to the sea so that Chinese people will suffer less.”