Cuarteron Reef has been expanded by around 23.1 hectares since May 2014, and now hosts a helipad and possibly elements of a radar network. In October 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Transport inaugurated a 50-meter-tall lighthouse on Cuarteron Reef.
China has expanded Duncan Island’s size by approximately 50% using sand dredged from the sea floor. Satellite imagery from January 2016 showed construction of a new helicopter base with 12 landing zones and efforts underway to expand and reinforce an island harbor.
Land reclamation work on Fiery Cross Reef, which is controlled by China, began in the summer of 2014. A decision to expand the reef was reported in the Hong Kong press in June, and commercial satellite images showing the extent of land reclamation work became available in October. In total, approximately 2.7 square kilometers of land have been added to the reef. The most important strategic asset added at the site is a 3,125-meter runway, and the reef is also host to two helipads.
Gaven Reef has been enlarged by Chinese land reclamation ships by 13.6 hectares. The low-tide elevation hosts a small garrison and a structure that may be an anti-aircraft tower.
Land reclamation activity on Kennan Reef, also known as Hughes Reef, began in May 2014 on the northeastern part. Reclamation work has expanded the reef by approximately 76,000 square meters. A large central structure and possibly an anti-aircraft system have been built during this time.
Itu Aba Island, along with nearby Zhongzhou reef, has been controlled by the Republic of China (Taiwan) since 1946. It is the largest of the naturally occurring features in the Spratly archipelago and the only one with natural freshwater supplies. Itu Aba has undergone roughly 32,000 square meters of land reclamation since August 2013 and is home to many notable facilities that have been built since the Republic of China took control. These include a hospital, weather stations, radar equipment, a solar-powered lighthouse, an airport, and airbase along with accompanying military and coast guard personnel.
Since China took control of Johnson Reef from Vietnam after a clash in 1988, the site has hosted a lone communications platform. Since March 2012, however, the reef has been expanded by 3.95 square kilometers following a major land reclamation campaign. Chinese construction crews have erected radar facilities, communications equipment, anti-aircraft weapons, and a helipad.
On September 11, 2012, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda nationalized three islands in the Senkaku/Diaoyu chain, which are claimed by China and Taiwan. Minamiko-jima is one of the three islands. The other two are Uotsuri-shimai and Kita-ko-shima.
Mischief Reef has been expanded by Chinese dredgers by 5.58 square kilometers since early 2015. The reef now hosts a large building powered by wind turbines and solar panels, and work is ongoing to create a 3,000-meter airstrip.
North Island lies approximately 12 kilometers (6.5 nautical miles) north of Woody Island in the Amphitrite Group of the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands. The island is 300 kilometers (162 nautical miles) southeast of China’s Yulin/Longpo naval base. Satellite imagery taken in early 2016 showed the creation of a land bridge connecting North Island with its neighbor, Middle Island, just a few kilometers southeast. In March 2017, imagery revealed erosion of part of the bridge and new land cleared on North Island.
Sand Cay is the fourth largest of the features controlled by Vietnam in the Spratly Islands. Since August 2011 Vietnam has expanded the reef by 21,000 square meters and has constructed new military structures with defensive capabilities such as gun installations.
Located 120 nautical miles west of the northern Philippines, Scarborough Shoal is claimed by both Manila and Beijing. In 2012, a stand-off between Chinese and Philippine maritime law enforcement vessels was resolved through U.S. mediation. The China Coast Guard maintains a presence near the shoal and has reportedly prevented other nations’ fishing vessels from entering its enclosed lagoon.
The size of Subi Reef has grown by 3.95 square kilometers since July 2014, when Chinese dredging ships began working on the maritime feature. The most notable addition to the reef is a runway of around 2,200 meters, which may be extended by around another 1,000 meters. This runway, first identified in a satellite image taken in April 2015, is the third Chinese combat-capable runway in the South China Sea.
Swallow Reef, a coral atoll occupied by Malaysia since 1983, has undergone nearly 283,000 square meters of land reclamation. Construction has been oncgoing and includes a naval station with an air-defense system, an airport with two aircraft hangers and a paved runway, a marine research facility, and a diving resort. The paved runway is over 1,300 meters long, allowing the operation of fighter jets in addition to transport and commercial airplanes.
Thitu Island, the largest of the Philippine-controlled islands in the Spratly archipelago, has been enlarged by over 56,000 square meters since the Philippine government occupied the island in the 1970s. Military installations, mostly built around that time, include a military base, an unpaved and eroding runway as well as concrete bunkers. Approximately 200 residents live on the island and a small contingent of Philippine armed forces are stationed there.
On September 11, 2012, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda nationalized three islands in the Senkaku/Diaoyu chain, which are claimed by China and Taiwan. Uotsuri-shimai is one of the three islands. The other two are Minamiko-jima and Kita-ko-shima.
West Reef, also known as West London Reef, has undergone 65,000 square meters of land reclamation since mid-2012. Vietnam had already built several small military structures across the reef and recent construction activity has included a number of buildings that could have future military use.
On June 21, 2012 the State Council promoted Sansha City on Woody (Yongxing) Island from a county to a prefectural level administrative entity, the second highest administrative division. Sansha continued its responsibility for managing the Paracels, the Spratlys (claimed by China as the Nansha Islands), the Zhongsha Islands (a collection of features that includes the Macclesfield Bank) and their surrounding waters.