Friday, June 14, 2024
Friday, June 14, 2024
Home » Vietnam Beefs Up Militarization in WPS

Vietnam Beefs Up Militarization in WPS

by Kalani Malaythong
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VIETNAM has tapped a private company to build an artificial island in the West Philippine Sea as part of its militarization efforts in areas that it claims, according to documents of the government project leaked to The Manila Times.

The company was identified as the Airport Design and Construction Consultancy One Member Limited Liability Co. (ADCC), known as a top firm in Vietnam in the field of construction consultancy for aviation and airport engineering projects.

Land features in the West Philippine Sea that will supposedly be militarized by Vietnam include Hizon (Pearson) Reef, Pigeon (Tennent) Reef and Maskardo (Barque Canada) Reef.

These are also claimed by the Philippines, as they are covered by its 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), according to the documents.

Aside from Vietnam and the Philippines, Hizon Reef is also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Map showing the extent of disputed claims in the South China Sea.

In addition to the main feature, there is one outpost constructed on the fringing reef, which Vietnam first took possession of in 1978.

Pigeon Reef, on the other hand, has been occupied by Vietnam since 1988. It is also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Vietnam first took possession of the Maskardo Reef in 1987. In addition to the main feature, there are three outposts constructed on the fringing reef.

A source who requested anonymity for not being authorized to talk to the media said Vietnam is planning to build “a covert fortification, command fortification, firepower fortification, weapons storage fortification, traffic trench system, trench and related tactical items” in the territories mentioned.

The source further told The Manila Times that the Vietnamese government is ready to send people to these land features, where they will set up residences.

“They think that building military and civilian constructions and sending people to live in the islands [will prove that] those islands belong to them,” the source said.

The source also revealed that Vietnam will increase the presence of its fishermen in the “vicinity waters of the above reefs because it is not only good for developing maritime economy but also defending their sovereignty.”

Documents obtained by the source showed that the scale of the Vietnam government’s artificial island is vast. In Hizon Reef, the project will cover 19.5 km², in Pigeon Reef 23.4 km² and in Maskardo Reef 181 km².

The same documents also showed that a total of 34 projects that will militarize the land features have been laid down.

It was also learned that Vietnam plans to construct a 180-meter port in Sand Cay to dock its Gepard 3.9 class frigate, as well as fortifications, Battle Bunker and barracks.

The scale of the project at Sand Cay will be about 100 km² when construction is finished.

Sandy Cay is a sandbar that lies directly west of Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, also in the West Philippine Sea. It is the ninth-largest, and the fourth-largest former Vietnamese-administered, of the Spratly Islands.

The island has been occupied by Vietnam since 1974, but is also claimed by the Philippines, China and Taiwan.

Likewise, Binago (Namyit) Reef will expand to 173 acres and have two more ports to dock frigates such as the 3.9 Class Gepard.

The source told The Manila Times that the Vietnamese government believes that signing the Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea “will maximize land reclamation, especially build military and civilian airports in islands with suitable conditions.”

Negotiations among Southeast Asian countries and China on the COC are expected to resume in Manila in August.

Source: The Manila Times

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