Beijing plans island city on Woody Island in the Paracels
China wants to build an island city in the disputed South China Sea.
SOUTH CHINA SEA — The Chinese government has announced plans to build up a strategic island in the Paracels, despite strong opposition from the U.S.
The South China Morning Post reports that China is planning to build an 'island city' on Woody Island and neighboring islets Tree and Drummond. According to the Communist Party secretary of Sansha, the aim is to turn the island and two islets into a national key strategic service and logistics base.
According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Woody Island is China's main military base in the Paracels, and is equipped with an airstrip, aircraft hangars, ports, and missiles.
Woody Island is also home to a settlement of about 1,000 people, and serves as the administrative capital of the three island chains it claims in the South China Sea.
The U.S. has long criticized China's expansion and militarization of the disputed region, and challenges territorial claims with freedom of navigation operations, despite protests from Beijing.
According to the South China Morning Post, two American B-52H Stratofortress bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons flew over the South China Sea on March 14 for the second time in 10 days.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke out last week criticizing China's 'illegal island-building in international waterways.' He also accused Beijing of using coercive means to block energy development in the South China Sea.
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