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Photo Essay: China’s island fortresses

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With China deploying J-10 fighter jets to the contested Woody Island, Beijing is sending a message to the rest of the world as tensions remain high in the South China Sea.

With China deploying J-10 fighter jets to the contested Woody Island, Beijing is sending a message to the rest of the world as tensions remain high in the South China Sea.

Over the past few years, China has continued a number of redevelopments on contested islands in the South China Sea, including Woody Island, Fiery Cross Reef, Mabini Reef, as well as the Spratly Islands.

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The growing assertiveness in the region from Beijing has been a cause for concern for the United Nations and regional nations, with China showing a blatant disregard for international convention in doing so.

The latest move by China has again raised eyebrows, with the deployment of the J-10s marking the first time those aircraft have been seen deployed on Woody Island, or any Chinese-controlled islands in the SCS.

Speaking to Defence Connect last yearDr Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said, "2018 has been an interesting year in the South China Sea. It started fairly early on with the basing of anti-ship cruise missiles on reclaimed islands in the SCS, the basing of the upgraded, H-6K nuclear capable bomber on Woody Island and more recently the USS Decatur (DDG-73) incident really reinforces that China is not backing down from its territorial ambitions." 

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We will highlight some of the island fortresses China has established in the South China Sea, including descriptive maps of the region as provided by the US Department of Defense and the CIA.

Please scroll through the photo gallery above for these images.

Photo Essay: China’s island fortresses
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