A Cold War in the South China Sea
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies reported last week that recent satellite imagery showed that Vietnam lengthened its runway on Spratly Island by dredging and reclamation work.
The runway has been expanded from less than 2,500 feet to more than 3,300 feet and probably will be lengthened to 4,000 feet. According to AMTI, which is a project of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, continued reclamation work by Vietnam would likely mean that the runway has been extended to more than 4,000 feet.
According to AMTI, Vietnam has added 57 acres to Spratly Island.
When construction is completed, the longer runway will be able to accommodate commercial transport aircraft and jet fighter aircraft. Vietnam has been upgrading the defenses of its islands, especially Spratly Island, steadily this year. Vietnam installed an extended range artillery rocket (EXTRA) system on Spratley Island that can reach some of the Chinese Islands.
The Vietnamese can’t be blamed for pushing back against China, which would swallow all of Asia whole if I could. That’s naturally the Chinese plan but being Chinese, they have a 100 year timetable to accomplish it.
The Syrian air forces attacked eastern Aleppo for a sixth straight day Sunday, 20 November, in the most intense bombing since the war began five years ago.
Among the latest reported violence: a suspected chemical attack that killed four children and their parents. Two activist groups — the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights and Aleppo Media Center — said a barrage of barrel bombs struck their neighborhood.
The death toll since the bombing campaign began is over 300, or 50 deaths a day. All hospitals in eastern Aleppo have been destroyed or have closed.
As yet no major ground offensive against Aleppo has occurred. The Syrians continue to have the lead in liberating the rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
The Russians want the Syrians to do the heavy lifting that comes with a ground assault. The Syrians would rather have the Russians do it for them. The process of softening up neighborhoods (turning them into rubble) will continue until the Syrians feel that they can manage the mopping up without suffering a humiliating defeat.