Island Tracker


Follow the latest developments on island reclamation activities in maritime Asia. Exclusive new satellite imagery is added on a regular basis.

Island Building

Cuarteron Reef

Cuarteron Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Cuarteron Reef
Chinese: Huayang Jiao (华阳礁)
Philippine: Calderon Reef
Vietnamese: Bãi Châu Viên
The artificial island at Cuarteron Reef saw most of its construction and dredging during the summer of 2014. Construction of buildings and facilities continues today.

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Fiery Cross Reef

Fiery Cross Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Fiery Cross Reef
Chinese: Yongshu Reef (永暑礁)
Philippine: Kagitingan Reef
Vietnamese: Đá Chữ Thập
Reclamation on Fiery Cross Reef began in August of 2014. Principal landmass construction was finished by November. Since January of 2015, construction has begun on an airstrip estimated at 3,110 meters in length. Work has also proceeded on a port facility.

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Gaven Reef

Gaven Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Gaven Reefs
Chinese: Nanxun Jiao (南薰礁)
Philippine: Burgos Reefs
Vietnamese: Đá Ga Ven
Construction at Gaven Reef began sometime after March 30, 2014. The island that has been reclaimed since then measures approximately 300 by 250 meters with causeways extending from a central island.

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Hughes Reef

Hughes Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Hughes Reef
Chinese: Dongmen (东门礁)
Philippine: Đá Tư Nghĩa
Construction on Hughes Reef began in summer 2014. What was once a 380 square meter concrete platform on stilts has been expanded to a 75,000 square meter island through dredging and reclamation activity.

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Johnson Reef

Johnson Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Johnson Reef
Chinese: Chigua Jiao (赤瓜礁)
Philippine: Mabini Reef
Vietnamese: Đá Gạc Ma
Though reclamation began far earlier, significant progress on building construction was made at Johnson South Reef in late 2014.

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Mischief Reef

Mischief Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Mischief Reef
Chinese: Meiji Jiao (美济礁)
Tagalog: Panganiban reef
Vietnamese: Đá Vành Khăn
Beginning in early 2015, Mischief Reef has undergone extensive reclamation activity along the western rim of the reef. Recent widening of the southern entrance to the reef, coupled with sightings of PLAN naval vessels around the reef, may suggest a future role for the reclaimed reef as a naval base.

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Subi Reef

Subi Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Subi Reef
Chinese: Zhubi Dao (渚碧礁)
Philippine: Zamora
Vietnamese: Đá Xu Bi
Subi Reef is the most recent feature to undergo significant reclamation efforts by China. Originally occupied in 1988, since July of 2014 it has seen significant expansion of the landmass with some analysis suggesting it might have the footprint to support a second airstrip, much like Fiery Cross Reef.

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Sand Cay

Sand Cay

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Sand Cay
Chinese: Dungian Shazhou (敦谦沙洲), Beixiao Dao (北小岛)
Philippine: Bailan Island
Vietnamese: Đảo Sơn Ca

Sand Cay was occupied by Vietnam in 1975 and has undergone sporadic occupation and development ever since. Between 2011 and 2015, Vietnam has expanded the island at Sand Cay by more than 50%, adding extensive defensive structures and facilities and improving existing western facilities.

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West Reef

West Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: West Reef
Chinese: Xi Jiao (西礁)
Philippine: Kanlurang Quezon
Vietnamese: Đá Tây

Vietnam is believed to have controlled West Reef without interruption since 1975. Vietnam built a lighthouse on the reef in May or June of 1994 and built various military structures throughout the feature in the years that followed. Beginning in August 2012, the reef has been the site of extensive land reclamation and construction with additional facilities and a harbor being built.

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AMTI

All photos unless otherwise credited belong to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and Digital Globe. For related inquiries please contact the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.


Outposts & Claims

Spratly Island Outposts

This map shows the major outposts and facilities in the Spratly islands. These islands are known in Chinese as the Nansha Islands, in Malay as the Kepulauan Spratly and in Vietnamese as the Quần đảo Trường Sa. The four operational airfields at Swallow Reef (Malaysia), Itu Aba (Taiwan), Thitu Island (Philippines) and Spratly Island (Vietnam) are indicated. China is in the process of constructing a fifth airstrip on the reclaimed land atop Fiery Cross reef. The yellow dots indicate reefs that China has reclaimed or begun to reclaim: Fiery Cross, Cuarteron, Hughes, Johnson South, Mischief, Gaven and Subi. It is notable that all seven of these reclaimed reefs fall within the claims of the Philippines, with Mischief Reef falling within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.


Island Reclamation Analysis

What Makes an Island? Land Reclamation and the South China Sea Arbitration

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We have all heard about land reclamation by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the South China Sea, particularly the southeastern region known as the Spratly Group. But much less is being said about what the Permanent Court of Arbitration just finished considering for the past week: are ...

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Diplomacy Changes, Construction Continues: New Images of Mischief and Subi Reefs

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On June 16, 2015, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang announced that “as planned, the land reclamation project of China’s construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha (Spratly) Islands will be completed in the upcoming days.” He went on to note that after ...

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China’s Land Reclamation Announcement: A Change in Message, Not in Policy

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Q1: What has China announced about its land reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands? A1: On June 16, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang announced that “as planned, the land reclamation project of China’s construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha (Spratly) ...

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China’s Claims are Unambiguously Ambiguous

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In the first paragraph of his recent AMTI article, Zheng Zhihua essentially conflates two issues–questions of sovereignty over islands and questions of jurisdiction over resources and the boundaries delimiting them–when he says: A few international observers also accuse China of ...

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