Chinese marines take part in a drill on Johnson South Reef, April 23, 2010. (Photo/Xinhua)
China may soon build a military facility on the disputed Johnson South Reef to expand its scope in the region, according to Duowei News, an outlet run by overseas Chinese.
The reef, in the contested Spratly islands in the South China Sea, is currently under Chinese administration but also claimed by Vietnam. As far as Beijing is concerned, it belongs to Sansha, a prefecture-level city of Hainan province established in 2012 comprising the Spratly islands, the Paracel islands and Macclesfield Bank, all of which are disputed territories.
Citing military experts, Duowei said China may soon construct a new airfield on Johnson South Reef to increase its force projection ability over the South China Sea region.
According to the report, China has learned valuable lessons from the Johnson South Reef Skirmish with Vietnam in 1988, when Beijing found that it would be close to impossible to drive Vietnam out of the Spratlys without a strong air force.
After its victory in the 1988 skirmish, in which more than 70 Vietnamese sailors were killed, China occupied six reefs and atolls in the Spratly islands, including Johnson South Reef. However, Vietnam still controls 29 islands in the Spratly chain.