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.


old naughty monk27 Mon, 11/06/2017 - 04:05 Permalink

they also have a "magic lift ship" that halted up 6000 tones in one go while working on theHongkong-Zhujai-Macau (world's longest cross-sea) bridge that had just completed the 6.7 km tunnel 48 meters under, and will soon be in service...(so stealing sea too?); it's worth noting that they engineered on their own successfully sinking the 33 sections without the help of the Dutch, world'd leading expert. ponders what the elites were thinking 30+ years ago handing China manufacturing for the world? Please DO THINK HARD !!!

In reply to by monk27

qomolangma old naughty Mon, 11/06/2017 - 04:28 Permalink

That one is named Tianjing or Sky Whale; the latest one is even bigger, named Tiankun (literally means the legendary giant fish that could transform into a giant bird from sky).The latest cutter-sucker dredging vessel, Tiankun, with a deck as long as five basketball courts, 140 meters, can smash underwater rocks and then suck out sand, water, and mud, and transfer the substance up to 15 kilometers away. It can dredge up to 6,000 cubic meters, that is around two and half Olympic swimming pools an hour from a depth of up to 35 meters."The electronic vessel is able to dredge an area the size of a soccer field with a depth of one meter within one hour," said the involved Chinese chief engineer.

In reply to by old naughty

SoDamnMad monk27 Mon, 11/06/2017 - 02:22 Permalink

If I had a lake cottage with a pristine view of the waters and someone came up and built a tiny island 50 feet  off my dock with a shack on it, don't think I might take out my 30-30 and have some targeet practice.  The Phillipines had an island built within there territorial waters and Duarte wants military equipment and commerce so he sold out his country and backed off.  Vietnam, though tiny, isn't ready to throw in the towel.

In reply to by monk27

Utopia Planitia monk27 Mon, 11/06/2017 - 11:46 Permalink

So you are fine if I build a fence in your living room and declare that the space is my garage?  Or if I do the same thing in the middle of a national park?If you want China to OWN the South China Sea, which means no non-Chinese commercial vessels will be able to pass through there without Chinese approval, then just say so.  But don't play Mr. Innocent who "doesn't see any problem" with something that clearly is.

In reply to by monk27

qomolangma Dr. Bonzo Mon, 11/06/2017 - 02:55 Permalink

You're much spotted. Indeed China is the most vibrant polity engaging in real development today, in all real sectors while many others just build on paper and/or much distracted by the internal strugges... left right infighting movements. Time will eventually remove all the obscurity. Just live long to see.

In reply to by Dr. Bonzo

Dragon HAwk Mon, 11/06/2017 - 00:34 Permalink

Got to hand it to them, first big country to think of expanding their borders out to sea, with out  Colonialism  I always liked the dredge a circle pump the water out and fill it with garbage Island Myself

qomolangma just the tip Mon, 11/06/2017 - 02:41 Permalink

I will call out loudly the China's expansionism / colonialism attempt (etc... just term as you prefer) whenever they reach the build-ups of 500 outposts..In no way the Chinese should be allowed to ever come close with the United States of America. We all must condemn them severely... only now seems too premature for those several small island reclamation efforts within its own backyard. It has not even come close to the British-owned yet American-controlled large outpost, the Diego Garcia, half the way of globe from each's own mainlaind.

In reply to by just the tip

Dr. Bonzo dunderduck Mon, 11/06/2017 - 03:16 Permalink

And Holland is the first little country to do so since probably 500 years ago, ahem.Hate to be nitpickety and pedantic about this type of thing, but the Dutch have been engineering water works for at least 2000 years, if not longer. I use the word engineering to indicate their efforts at controlling the sea might date back even further via dikes and plateau building, but this was common across the ancient world. Actual application of mechanical inventions to fight the sea probably can be dated back to just before the Romans showed up on the North Sea's doorstep.You have to go to Asia to hear Chinese moaning about their ancient civilization ad nauseum... in the meantime apparently white Europeans are either incredibly forgetful, frightfully modest or just indifferent, but by no means were the Europeans slouches.We all know this of course... just sayin. At any rate... now we have Dutch-Somalis and Dutch-Morrocans and Dutch-Turks to teach us the fine art of sitting around at noon chewing on plant leaf, spitting on sidewalks and hurling abuse at women and clannish infighting... respectively.Aaaaaaaah.... cultural enrichment!!!!!!! ALL HAIL CHINA!!!!!!

In reply to by dunderduck

ChaoKrungThep Mon, 11/06/2017 - 00:47 Permalink

These "islands" are defensive. China knows that when it gets nasty, the US will try to blockade Chinese sea routes. They're preparing a string of defensive outposts along the way. The (relative) subtlty of operation has flummoxed the US - not big enough to fight over yet not small enough to ignore. China wins again.

DEMIZEN ChaoKrungThep Mon, 11/06/2017 - 01:48 Permalink

defensive my ass, there are no defensive weapons. these islands are used as energy generators, surface bases and sam pads. deep sea water is thermally inpenetrable. deep under the water there will hundreds of of wired launchpads undestructable in the first wave of attacks. why bother with submarines? chinese have a good plan and plenty of resources.i hope us is smart enough and does the same along continental margins and as close as possible to north war = land & sub sea

In reply to by ChaoKrungThep

Anteater ChaoKrungThep Mon, 11/06/2017 - 01:39 Permalink

The Trump Administration thinks you're full of horse puckey,and just released this stultifying communique on 'The Quad': "The U.S. is now entrenching new languagefor America's role in the Asia. It is nowofficially the Indo-Pacific, not the Asia-Pacific. That attempts to bring Indiapermanently into the U.S. web of alliancesand partnerships in the region. And it isthe precursor to the new partnership —"the quad" — which will bring together theU.S., Japan, India and Australia. The firstmeeting will be soon, to bring 1,000,000H-3B visa Indian workers to the US and anincrease above 150,000 H-1B high-tech, to keep America strong and growing!"

In reply to by ChaoKrungThep