China’s military has begun constructing a new airstrip on a third artificial island in the South China Sea ahead of President’ Xi Jinping’s trip to Washington next week, The New York Times reported, citing photographs released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The photos show preparation for airfields on submerged reefs in the contested Spratly islands that the center says are being transformed into islands. An airstrip on Mischief Reef is about 20 miles from a small Philippine military garrison on an existing tiny island and will put the installation under great pressure, said James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.
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