On April 17, we introduced readers to Fiery Cross Reef, one of China’s man-made islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Since then, Beijing’s land reclamation efforts have sparked an international firestorm, complete with war games, threats, a confrontation between a US spy plane carrying a CNN crew and the PLA Navy, World War 3 chatter, and, of course, references to Nazi Germany.
Amid the rhetoric, China has maintained it has every right to protect its “legitimate” territorial claims by constructing thousands of acres of sovereign land and, if necessary, enforcing a no-fly zone above the new islands.
But while Beijing admits its Spratly sand castles will indeed be used for military purposes, it also says the primary goal of the entire dredging effort is to assist China in carrying out the country's “various civilian demands and international obligations and responsibilities in the area such as maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine scientific research, meteorological observation, ecological environment conservation, navigation safety as well as fishery production service.”
Now, Beijing has embarked on what looks like a propaganda campaign to show that despite attempts by the US and its regional allies to cast aspersions, island life in the Spratlys is all about girls, gardening, puppies, and pigs.
Behold: life on Fiery Cross Reef: