China and the US must agree to disagree over South China Sea

By The Canberra Times
Updated April 23 2018 - 10:24am, first published June 5 2015 - 5:13am

China's claim to sovereignty over the uninhabited reefs and tiny islands of the South China Sea has never been recognised internationally. That's unsurprising given the claim is based on a vague map which the fledgling Communist government made public in 1949. In recent years, however, the Chinese have been busy dredging and building artificial islands and reef structures in the disputed Spratly Islands – a classic application, perhaps, of the old adage that possession is nine-tenths of the law. Satellite photos of these islets have identified radar facilities and a runway capable of handling military aircraft. This installation activity, along with demands that foreign ships remain 12 nautical miles distant from the newly built islands, add weight to the view that China is intent on giving its sovereignty claims the rule of force.