China built a farm on a disputed island in the South China Sea

Fiery Cross Reef South China SeaCSIS Asia Maritime Transparency InitiativeA satellite view of the Fiery Cross Reef.

In another show of force, China built a farm on an island in the disputed South China Sea, Defence One reports.

What was originally a sparse area, the Fiery Cross Reef, or Yongshu Island, is now a 2.74 square kilometer land mass boastinga farm, lighthouses, a tourist resort, a hospital.

Defence One reports that the farm contains a vegetable garden, fish pond, and around 500 livestock to include chicken, pigs and geese.

Territorial claims from Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan, and China make the South China Sea one of the most disputed territories on the planet.

According to author and the chief geopolitical analyst for Stratfor, Robert D. Kaplan, “the South China Sea functions as the throat of the Western Pacific and Indian oceans — the mass of connective economic tissue where global sea routes coalesce.”

“More than half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through these choke points, and a third of all maritime traffic worldwide,” Kaplan wrote in “Asia’s Cauldron: The

South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific.”

Meanwhile, China claims the majority of the contested region, which is home to $5 trillion in annual global trade.

Although China is rapidly
developing a military presence in the South China Sea, it also seems to be taking this two-pronged approach to legitmising its ownership of the contested area — that is, putting forth the argument that it has developed a fledgling civilian population that is now able to sustain itself.

By providing evidence that their intentions for the island had been purely for peaceful purposes, they could make the persuasive argument that any encroachment, or even a threat to its sovereignty could be an addressable grievance by not just China, but by the rest of the UN.

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