What you need to know
China operating the new lighthouses now is not only controversial, but also suggests that China is urgent to frame strategic locations in the South China Sea. It only took less than five months to complete the two lighthouses since China announced the constructions.
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Despite the ongoing South China Sea dispute, the Chinese government has announced operation of the two new large lighthouses on the Cuarteron Reef and the Johnson South Reef of the Spratly Islands.
On October 10, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC stated that the authorities have issued navigation warnings according to the Chinese regulations. It will continue to build other facilities in the Spratly chain in the future.
Liberty Times reports, on October 8, the US revealed that it is considering sailing battleships to waters of the 12 nautical miles in the Spratly Islands that China claims territory. This will be done to refute China’s assertion and to defend freedom of navigation on the high seas.
China immediately said on next day that it would not stand for violations of its territorial waters in the name of freedom of navigation and warned other nations to focus on regional peace and stability rather than raising provocation.
On October 10, Harris, commander of US forces in the Pacific, said he will not discuss future operations, but he believes the US should protect freedom of navigation and maritime flight in the South China Sea.
The US has requested China to stop the land reclamation projects in the South China Sea multiple times. The Cuarteron Reef and the Johnson South Reef are two of the seven land reclamation reefs China has built in the Spratly Islands.
Reports also say the construction of the two lighthouses is to let vessels from countries in the region to navigate better in the waters.
UDN reports, China operating the new lighthouses now is not only controversial, but also suggests that China is urgent to frame strategic locations in the South China Sea. It only took less than five months to complete the two lighthouses since China announced the constructions.
The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan all claim sovereignty of the Johnson South Reef, but the PRC army has occupied it since their victory in the war against the Vietnamese navy in 1998. While the Cuarteron Reef is the very west point of which is stationed by Chinese troops, the Philippines also claims power over the area.
Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang