China tightens grip over South China Sea in 2017, expands islands

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Beijing, Dec 25 (IANS) China expanded the area of islands occupied by it in the South China Sea in 2017 and constructed radar facilities, hangars among others in an area covering 290,000 square metres, an official report said.
China, which claims almost 90 percent of the energy-rich South China Sea and is locked in a dispute with other littoral states, also stepped up its military presence in the hotly-contested waters.

Its construction projects in the South China Sea region covered about 290,000 square meters in 2017, including new facilities for underground storage, administrative buildings, and large radars, according to a report released on, a website jointly run by the National Marine Data and Information Service and the People’s Daily Overseas Edition.

The report added that China has reasonably expanded the area of South China Sea Islands, in order to enhance military defense capability within its sovereign scope and improve the lives of people living on the islands.

Maritime trade worth $5 trillion passed through the South China Sea where China, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

Experts say the North Korean nuclear crisis has proved to be a blessing in disguise for China as it has kept the US busy and took its attention off Beijing’s military build-up and land reclamation in the disputed islands in the past year.