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 land reclamation on existing features was complete, China would continue to construct facilities on its new islands. As of June 17, AMTI assesses that two of China’s land reclamation projects are fully complete, three are nearly complete, and two are ongoing, with active land reclamation still taking place. The map below shows the current status of China’s Spratly building projects.


The pictures below, taken between early and mid-June, show ongoing work at Mischief and Subi Reef, with dredging activity still underway. Read on for more information about activity at these reefs. China’s announcement comes as Washington and Beijing prepare to meet for the seventh annual Strategic and Economic Dialogues (S&ED) on June 22-24. This timing, coupled with the fact that five of China’s seven projects were nearly finished, leads CSIS scholars to argue that China’s statement represents a change in message, but not a change in policy.

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Mischief Reef. June 10, 2015.

As of June 10, 2015, extensive dredging was still underway at Mischief Reef, as the pictures display. The northern, western, and southern landmasses constructed in the early Spring of 2015 have been connected and continue to expand and be reinforced with seawalls now ringing the reclaimed reef. In the middle of the feature, dozens of dredgers and support craft transit the inner harbor.

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Mischief Reef. June 10, 2015.

Reclamation is most active along the northeastern rim of the reef, newly reclaimed since AMTI last released photos of Mischief Reef in March. New structures and construction equipment are visible along the northern bank of the reef. At the southern facility, a seawall is being constructed. AMTI assesses that 5,420,000 square meters of land have been reclaimed at Mischief Reef as of June 10, 2015.

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Subi Reef. June 5, 2015.

Subi reef has changed dramatically in the last few months. The southern, western, and northern edges of the reef have been reclaimed and an access channel to the inner harbor has been cut out. Most of the reclaimed reef’s infrastructure has been built out on the southwestern landmass. Like Mischief reef, the inner harbor is transited by dozens of support craft with active dredgers operating to the north and south of the reef. A naval vessel is visible to the west of the reef. To the east one dredger can be seen expanding the entrance to the reef. Construction is ongoing with two cement plants being built along the western bank and seawalls now extending across the length of the reclaimed land. AMTI assesses that 3,950,000 square meters of land have been reclaimed at Subi Reef as of June 10, 2015.

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Subi Reef. June 5, 2015.

Follow the AMTI Island Tracker for the latest imagery.


About AMTI Leadership

Dr. Michael Green is senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Executive Advisor to AMTI. Gregory B. Poling is a senior fellow for Southeast Asia and director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at CSIS.