Images Show Land-Filling at another Vietnamese Island in South China Sea

BenarNews staff
2021.11.03
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Satellite imagery of Namyit Island, a Vietnamese-held feature in the Spratlys, shows construction underway at its western tip. An image from Oct. 30 shows a barge and construction platform that was not visible on Sept. 29. (Images: Planet Labs Inc. Analysis: BenarNews)

Vietnam is carrying out construction and land-filling on another island under its control in the South China Sea, commercial satellite images analysed by BenarNews show.

The images show an extension is being developed to the western tip of Namyit island in the Spratly chain.

The then-Republic of Vietnam took possession of Namyit, which it calls Nam Yet, in 1973. North Vietnam’s army took over the island in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War.

A Planet Labs image on Oct. 30 shows building activities in Namyitm including a barge and construction platform that were not visible Sept. 29.

Sources familiar with the development plan who were not authorized to speak publicly, said Vietnam may be building a ship dock to improve access to the island.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese analysts said their country carries out work to prevent erosion and landslides to protect but not to expand or change the island features under its control.

At the same time as Namyit, construction work is being carried out on Pearson Reef, another Vietnam-controlled feature in the Spratly islands. Images taken on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 show what appears to be dredging work at the southern tip of the reef, BenarNews has revealed.

Vietnam has 49 or 51 outposts in the South China Sea spread across 27 features including ten islets, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI). Two of the 10 islets, Amboyna Cay and Namyit island, had not seen discernible reclamation work until now, AMTI said.

Namyit is a natural-occurring coral island with a total area of 13 acres, the fifth largest among Vietnam-administered islands in the South China Sea.

It is one of the more developed, with an array of new civilian facilities including a Buddhist temple, a medical center, a “cultural house” and a nature reserve which is under construction, local media have reported.

Namyit is also claimed by China, the Philippines and Taiwan.

China, which claims most of the South China Sea for itself, has been criticizing other countries, especially Vietnam, for construction efforts on islands in the region. By 2016, Vietnam had created just over 120 acres of land in the South China Sea compared to almost 3,000 acres created by China, AMTI said.

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