At first glance from above it looks like any clean and neatly planned small town, complete with sports grounds, neat roads and large civic buildings. But the town is on Subi reef in the Spratly archipelago of the hotly contested South China Sea and, regional security experts believe, could soon be home to China’s first troops based in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia. Private sector data analysis reviewed by Reuters shows Subi, some 1,200 km (750 miles) from China’s coast, is now home to nearly 400 individual buildings – far more than other Chinese islands. Subi could be the future location of hundreds of People’s Liberation Army marines, as well as a possible administrative hub as China cements its claim with a civilian presence, security analysts and diplomatic sources say. The data from Earthrise Media, a non-profit group supporting independent media with imagery research, was based on surveys of high-resolution images obtained by DigitalGlobe satellites, dating back to when China started dredging reefs in early 2014. The images show neat rows of basketball courts, parade grounds and a wide variety of buildings, some flanked by radar equipment. Earthrise founder Dan Hammer said his team’s count included only free-standing, permanent… Read full this story
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