China has sought to deflect criticism of its island building in the South China Sea by accusing other claimants, especially Vietnam, of doing the same. AMTI has examined each of the islets and reefs Vietnam occupies in the Spratly Islands and found evidence of reclamation at 10 of them. The images below suggest Vietnam has created just over 120 acres of new land in the South China Sea, mostly at Spratly Island, Southwest Cay, Sin Cowe Island, and West Reef. The majority of this work has occurred in the last two years. By comparison, China has created almost 3,000 acres of new land at the seven features it occupies in the Spratly Islands. Vietnam’s work has not only been much smaller, but far less environmentally destructive, as it has not involved large-scale dredging of the reefs on which Hanoi’s outposts sit. It has also mostly (but not always) involved expanding pre-existing islets rather than creating new land at submerged features. Nonetheless, Vietnam has ignored calls, including by U.S. officials, to halt its island-building in order to support a consensus against the practice.
China and Vietnam: Land Reclamation Comparison