Conflict with China: Philippines to convert Thitu Island into a major military logistics hub in the South China Sea
Manila: Countering Chinese aggression, the Philippines is set to convert its underdeveloped Thitu Island into a major military logistics hub in the South China Sea, media reports said.
Thitu’s hub plan will see the installation of high-resolution cameras to monitor activities of rival claimant states, namely China, and establish new facilities to support troops and naval patrols around the strategic island, the second largest in the contested Spratly Islands, Asia Times reported.
The island has remained at a centre of a conflict between China and the Philippines.
In recent years, Chinese vessels have swarmed Thitu in a bid to block Philippine shipments. Those have included materials earmarked to build a now completed beaching ramp that will be used to handle materials to upgrade Thitu’s civilian-military Rancudo Airfield airstrip, reports Asia Times.
Thitu is currently home to a naval jetty, communication tower, soldiers’ barracks, a desalination facility and even an elementary school to serve both military members and somewhere between 200-300 resident civilians.
In August 2020, Manila underscored its contested claim by naming six sandbars and two reefs in Thitu’s proximal area, reports the newspaper.
A fortified Thitu would go some way in rebalancing the Philippines’ considerable naval deficit vis-à-vis both China and its neighbors, reports Asia Times.
Image Attribution: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2020/Wikipedia Commons