New satellite imagery taken for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has the potential to dampen the mood of the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Here is more from The Washington Post.
China appears to be taking new steps to lay down airfields on two reefs in a disputed area of the South China Sea on the eve of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Sept. 24 arrival in Washington for a state visit.
Commercial satellite photos taken Tuesday for the Center for Strategic and International Studies show that China is flattening, rolling and putting gravel on an area the size of a military runway on Subi Reef, a once-submerged shoal that Beijing has built up into an area suitable for a military base. The flattened area is about 200 feet wide and nearly 1.4 miles long but is expected to grow and be covered with asphalt, say China experts who have examined the satellite photos.
The new construction seems certain to strain the meeting between Xi and President Obama, whose national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, was recently in Beijing. The United States has urged China to stop work in the region, and Beijing said in August that it would halt reclamation. But the satellite photos show that construction continues.
While the Tuesday commercial satellite photos were taken for CSIS, a separate Sept. 3 satellite photo posted on the Diplomat news Web site Thursday evening showed the same developments.
The satellite photos were taken for the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) as CSIS. That program has just announced that current director Dr. Mira Rapp-Hooper is leaving that program and the new director of AMTI will be Gregory Poling. Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post describing the background of the AMTI program.
Here is what CSIS has to say on decoding China's maritime decision-making. Here is CSIS's "Island Tracker" where you can explore China's island-building prowess. Here is the think tank's latest analysis on the island building by China.
In related Asia news at CSIS, the think tank has just announced the launch of a bipartisan commission to develop a comprehensive economic strategy for the United States to pursue vital US interests in the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia Economic Strategy Commission (AESC) will be chaired by Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, Evan Greenberg, and Gov. Jon Huntsman.