China is illegitimately working on a nine-story building on an artificial island its forces previously built up atop submerged Hughes Reef, part of Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea that Beijing has illegally occupied since 1988, a Vietnamese official has said. The building, along with two four-five floor blocks, is shown in photos taken by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper correspondents when they traveled past the reclaimed Hughes Reef on May 13 on their way to Sinh Ton Dong Island, another part of Truong Sa. Truong Sa is an island district of the south-central province of Khanh Hoa. Through direct surveillance and according to many sources, it has become known that China has been working on the nine-story building on Hughes Reef after reclaiming it as an artificial island, Colonel Ngo Duy Do, deputy chairman of the Truong Sa Island District People’s Committee, told the Tuoi Tre reporters on Sinh Ton Dong Island. The nine-story building is nearly completed, as shown in the photo taken bythe reporters.
After illegally reforming submerged Hughes Reef into an artificial island, China has built these construction works on it. Photo: Tuoi Tre
“The pace of construction is very rapid,” Colonel Do, who is also deputy commander of Brigade 146 in Naval Zone 4, said. The artificial island is L-shaped and has an area of about 10 hectares. In front of the nine-floor building is a tower of the same height. China has brought perennials, mainly coconuts, from the mainland to the island and grown them in front of the three buildings. As observed by the Tuoi Tre reporters, the island was busy with construction activity, including many large cranes, a concrete mixing plant, and two big cargo ships that took coral and sand from the nearby waters to continue filling in the artificial island.
Many cranes of Chinese construction units are seen on Hughes Reef, part of Vietnam's Truong Sa archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea. Photo: Tuoi Tre
China also dredged the waters off the reef to create a route that is 900 meters long and 10 meters deep for ships with a load of thousands of tons to dock at the island. Beijing illegally seized Hughes Reef, which belongs to the Sinh Ton Island clusters, part of Truong Sa, on February 28, 1988. During the above trip to Truong Sa, Tuoi Tre also saw China’s accelerated construction activities on other islands in Truong Sa, such as Chau Vien and Ga Ven, which have also been occupied by China since 1988. Construction on these islands is being carried out around the clock, the reporters said. Just a year ago these islands were being filled in, and now many major construction works have appeared on them.