Japanese island of Mageshima could become an unsinkable US aircraft carrier

Japan’s government announced this week that it’s buying Mageshima Island, an uninhabited outcrop 21 miles (34 kilometers) from the southernmost Japanese main island of Kyushu. The island, most of which is owned by a privately held Tokyo development company, is uninhabited and hosts two intersecting unpaved runways that were abandoned under a previous development project. The Japanese government said the runways will be paved and used for US Navy and Marine Corps planes to simulate aircraft carrier landings, though it did not give a time frame in which that could…

Asia Times | Vietnam a lonely island of resistance to China

Locked for months in a naval showdown with China over a gas-rich reef, Vietnam is now arguably the last competing claimant to proactively resist Beijing’s push to control the South China Sea. Much of Southeast Asia, including United States treaty ally the Philippines, rival claimant Malaysia, and Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) chairman Thailand, have all taken more conciliatory tacks in apparent hopes of winning so far largely withheld Chinese concessions. In contrast, Vietnam has openly and frequently criticized China’s militarization of contested land features in the sea, while…

Fears of military build-up as China secretly leases entire island in South China Seas

The government of the Solomon Islands has reached a secretive deal with a Chinese company with close ties to the Communist party that grants it exclusive rights to develop Tulagi, once the seat of British colonial rule in the Pacific archipelago.  The confidential arrangement has alarmed residents and raised fears that Beijing could be planning to use the tiny territory for future military rather than just commercial purposes.  Tulagi, which has a protected deepwater harbour, has long been viewed as a strategic outpost. Japan occupied the island during World War 2…

China Knows It Can’t Protect Every Island It Builds (Think South China Sea)

Key point: China wants as many bases from which to wage war as it can get. China has built some islands in the South China Sea. Can it protect them? During World War II Japan found that control of islands offered some strategic advantages, but not enough to force the United States to reduce each island individually. Moreover, over time the islands became a strategic liability, as Japan struggled to keep them supplied with food, fuel and equipment. The islands of the SCS are conveniently located for China, but do…

Chinese survey ship leaves Vanguard Bank in South China Sea and heads to artificial island outpost

A Chinese-owned survey ship that has been at the centre of a stand-off with Vietnamese vessels in the South China Sea on Monday left the area and headed for a Beijing-controlled reef. The Haiyang Dizhi 8, or Marine Geology 8, departed from Vanguard Bank – claimed by both Vietnam and China – and sailed towards Fiery Cross Reef, according to data from MarineTraffic, which tracks vessel movements. Beijing did not say why the survey ship had left the area, but last month it also travelled from Vanguard Bank to Fiery…