China Unveils "Magic" Island-Building Ship On Eve Of Trump Arrival

In a move that appears to validate Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford’s concerns about China’s strategy of slowly expanding its territorial and military footprint in the Pacific, the Chinese government unveiled on Sunday a “magical” island-building ship on the eve of Donald Trump’s visit in a move likely to renew fears about its claims to territory in the South China Sea, the Financial Times reported.

Measuing 140 meters, the Tiankun is the biggest dredger in Asia, with cutters and pumps capable of smashing the equivalent of three Olympic pools of rock an hour from the sea floor and shooting it up to 15 kilometers away to create artificial land. Over the past five years, China has used similar vessels to create a string of strategic islands to support its claims to 85% of the territory in the South China Sea.

China has been widely criticized by the international community for its land-reclamation efforts in in the Spratley islands, where China has been building manmade bases over some of the since 2014. China has asserted its dominance of several groups of tiny islands in the South and East China Seas. China last year said it would not accept a ruling against it made in a key international legal case over the strategic reefs and atolls that China has asserted its authority over. In that ruling, the ICC decided that the islands belonged to the Philippines.

According to Newsweek, the US estimates China has added 3,200 acres of land on seven features (which includes rocky outcrops and reefs) over the past three years.

Between 2013 and the middle of 2016 - the peak phase of the island-building efforts - China created seven islands and reclaimed 2,000 acres, and built airfields, missile bases and radar systems.

Last year, Beijing appeared to signal it was halting large-scale dredging. However, the creation of the Tiankun would suggest otherwise. Launched at a shipyard in Jiangsu province on Friday, the Tiankun will enter service next year with Tianjin Dredging Company, an arm of state-owned China Communications Construction Company that has carried out most of the dredging in the South China Sea.

The Marine Design and Research Institute in Shanghai, which designed the vessel, described it as a “magic island-maker” on Saturday.

The US military has taken a more hard-line approach to China’s territorial claims in the Pacific since President Donald Trump took office. Since inauguration day, the US Navy has conducted at least four “freedom of operation” missions whereby US destroyers have sailed within 12 miles of the controversial islands. The most recent such mission occurred in mid-October. Each time, China has scrambled fighter jets and ships to intercept the US vessel.

As the FT pointed out, Washington’s opposition to China’s claims remains an irritant in bilateral relations, and the topic is expected to be an important point of discussion with Xi Jinping, China’s president, when Trump arrives in Beijing on Wednesday for a two-day visit.


mkkby louie1 Mon, 11/06/2017 - 04:33 Permalink

Encourage Taiwan to break free. Watch china explode into revolution.

Tariff on imported goods. Watch china economy revert to 18th century.

Nothing ever invented there. Only make poor copies. Japan and south korea are the leaders of asia.

No need to fire a shot. China has fatal weaknesses.

In reply to by louie1

qomolangma Mon, 11/06/2017 - 02:28 Permalink

The Nine-Dash Line (or Nine-Sgement Line) map presented in this article is much inaccurate.One can find the more accurate representation of such map at the PDF: Here is an excerpt from Professor Graham Allison's interview recently: Thucydides Trap - Brett Wessley, who is an officer in the U.S. Navy, currently assigned to U.S. Pacific Command, interviewed the famous American author, Professor Graham Allison:I was going to ask you about the case of the South China Sea, because you have to watch it every day. I was in Beijing two weeks ago with a lot of people talking about Thucydides’s Trap, and some people—Chinese—believe the contest in the South China Sea is basically over...and that they won. Now, has anyone said that at U.S. Pacific Command? Would they be considered nuts, or is that at least a plausible idea?I think that would be news to us, but I’m interested in hearing why the Chinese think it’s over.There was an Australian there, a former Australian foreign minister, and he said he thought it was over too. He basically said the Chinese have achieved their objective: all the governments in the region now ask first what will China do, and look first to China rather than the U.S. over the contest in the area. I said, “Geez, I didn’t think that was the prevailing American view,” and he said Americans are often slow to wake up. So, I just started looking at it again. If you think of the economic balance of power between China and the U.S. as a seesaw, and that's why I have that graphic in my book, that basically shows the seesaw is tilting and our feet are now lifting off the ground. That is the reality. That reality is even more extreme in the case of relations between China and every one of its Asian neighbors. So China is important to every Asian neighbor as the market and the source of investments, as the party that can squeeze them if it decides to squeeze them. Whether it's the Philippines—or now even Singapore—feeling this, it is a fact of life for them every day.

Vigilante Mon, 11/06/2017 - 04:14 Permalink

The South China Sea is China's Lebensraum.They will have to take it or else they will be very vulnerable by big sea powersThe resources in the seabed are an added bonus.

lakecity55 Mon, 11/06/2017 - 05:23 Permalink

Trump counters by unveiling a magic casino-building robot.The Celestials, degenerate gamblers down to each dog-eater, are terrified. The robot can build a complete Taj Mahal sized casino in less than 24 hours.

RonBananas Mon, 11/06/2017 - 06:22 Permalink

I think China has peaked and is on the down slope. They print money as fast as we do, their debt is higher than ours, their 1.3 billion people who have lived under a Comunist Dictatorship their entire lives are starting to get frisky and the realization by the consumer world that these are NOT good guys is already starting to take its toll.Most of their products are junk, kind of like Japan post WWII.Their answer is to accumulate shiny gold bars and back their currency with them and the petro-yuan. On the shiny gold bars, they'll sell it hard, but at some point, go to a Chinese Bank and ask for gold for a yuan and you'll get the same thing you get with everything else in China, possible arrest or maybe just a big laugh.On the petro-yuan scene, they are about 40 years too late, thier partnership with oil rich Iran and Russia means you'll have 3 countries that have something that will be obsolete in 10 years on the world market

Last of the Mi… Mon, 11/06/2017 - 06:42 Permalink

This is classic communism propaganda. They call the ship "magic" that is built by slave labor and people who will never have a chance to see freedom or be free from government tyranny. Perfect!

Money_for_Nothing Mon, 11/06/2017 - 09:07 Permalink

US should start selling dredgers to the Philippines for cost. Get the US Army Corp of Engineers to help them build some islands. The US Navy could then lease those islands for bases.

Stevious Mon, 11/06/2017 - 14:16 Permalink

Well gee golly gosh, why don't we build a similar one for our ally the Republic of Philippines?Oh, I forgot, we don't know how to build anything anymore except derivatives and HFT sort of crap.C'mon peeps, it's pretty neat that the Chinese thought about building islands, or equivalently creepy that we never thought of it.The times they are a'changing.