China reef dev’t a prelude to air zone
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - September 30, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - China’s reclamation and development of disputed reefs in the West Philippine Sea is apparently part of Beijing’s plan to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the region, a senior security official said yesterday.

The source, citing military studies and continuous territorial monitoring, warned that China is very close to establishing full control of the region from other claimant countries – the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

“China is just waiting for the completion of its naval and air facility development projects over Cuarteron Reef, Chigua Reef, Mabini Reef and Burgos Reef before declaring the ADIZ similar to what it did in the East China Sea,” the official said.

Aerial survey by the Western Command (Wescom) over these reefs showed that the area is now teeming with construction activities.

The reclaimed reefs are located well within the Philippines 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and are under the territorial jurisdiction of Kalayaan Island, a municipality of Palawan.

The island-town is located right in the middle of the hotly contested Spratlys archipelago.

Aside from air and naval facilities, Beijing is also putting up tourism facilities on these artificial islets, including swimming pools and hotels to accommodate tourists from China.

In November last year, China was widely criticized by Japan and the United States when it established the ADIZ covering most of the East China Sea, including the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands or Diaoyu Islands to the Chinese.

Japan and China have claims over the Senkakus or Diaoyus, a dispute that has resulted in maritime actions and near air confrontation.

Local aviation official John Andrews had warned that China might attempt to establish another ADIZ in the South China Sea, as it aggressively pursues its encompassing maritime claim over the disputed region.

“Once ADIZ is established in the region, it will not only affect our air and naval movements in our Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) but also other claimant countries,” said another security official.

He said China is rushing reclamation developments in the region because it intends to position its fighter jets and warships to enforce the ADIZ.

At present, only Kalayaan town in Pag-asa Island has an airport while the remaining eight islets and reefs occupied by Filipino troops could be reached by Navy or civilian boats.

AIR DEFENSE IDENTIFICATION ZONE BEIJING BRUNEI AND TAIWAN CHIGUA REEF CHINA CUARTERON REEF DIAOYU ISLANDS EAST CHINA SEA IN NOVEMBER JAPAN AND CHINA
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