Even if they have to create the land, first.
China’s mysterious campaign to build artificial islands in disputed waters of the South China Sea has grown to cover roughly 2,000 acres, a senior defense official said Friday, as the Pentagon issued a report warning the sites could be used to bolster the country’s military infrastructure.
There’s nothing mysterious about it. This sort of thing is being built to support the People’s Republic of China’s air and sea forces as the PRC moves to concretize and enforce its attempts to occupy the East and South China Seas.
The DOD report warned that while Beijing’s island construction intent is unclear, five emerging outposts in the Spratly Islands could be used for surveillance systems, harbors and logistical support. The report said they could also hold “at least one airfield.”
That’s just dissembling or timidity. There’s nothing unclear about PRC intentions with these construction projects. Many of the sites are within the Exclusive Economic Zones of other nations on the rim of the Seas. If the PRC were just building these things to support fishery, or oil and gas, or rare earth mining and processing, they’d get permission from the host nations and cut costs by partnering with them for the development of these sites and split the processors’ output.
The PRC, though, is holding out, on threat of gunfire, those nations.