MANILA, Philippines - China plans to build a $5-billion artificial island envisioned to be a “super aircraft carrier” in the Spratlys within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The online news site Qianzhan.com reported that the No. 9 Design and Research Institute of China State Shipbuilding Corp. has come up with a proposed design of the artificial island being reclaimed from the sea in the Chinese-occupied Fiery Cross Reef, south of Mabini Reef (South Johnson Reef).
China is building a five-square-kilometer military base three meters above sea level near Fiery Cross Reef.
Estimated construction cost is $5 billion to take 10 years to complete, similar to the construction of a 100,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
The report said the Chinese military has also drawn up plans for occupied Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, located very close to mainland Palawan.
“Construction of the two artificial islands at Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef, will be equivalent to that for building an aircraft carrier, but the strategic gains will be very big,” the report said.
“The artificial island at Fiery Cross Reef will be an unreplaceable military base with great strategic significance due to its location and size. Such a base will realize the value of the South China Sea for China and ensure China’s status in South East Asia.
“If this plan is adopted by the government instead of the plan to seize the Zhongye Island (Pag-Asa Island) back from the Philippines, there will be no war at the South China Sea to affect China’s relations with the US and ASEAN.”
The report said Panganiban Reef will be transformed into a fishery center in the South China Sea, apart from its use for military purposes.
Income from fishing and fish farming are enough to recover the construction costs, the report added.
Panganiban Reef has been transformed into a modern forward naval station for China’s Navy.
It occupies the area in the guise of building a shelter for its fishermen in 1994. – With Paolo Romero