Project by the Chinese government on a tiny reef 500 miles from the mainland would enable China to land military aircraft there, expanding China's reach into the contested South China Sea, analysts have said - @nytimes
China can build whatever it wants on its islands in the South China Sea, a senior Chinese official says, rejecting proposals ahead of key regional meeting to freeze any activity that may raise tensions in disputed waters there - @Reuters
The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around 3,500,000 square kilometres (1,400,000 sq mi). The area's importance largely results from one-third of the world's shipping transiting through its waters, and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed.
It is located
south of mainland China, including the island of Taiwan, in the east;
east of Vietnam and Cambodia;
west of the Philippines;
east of the Malay peninsula and Sumatra, up to the Straits of Malacca in the west; and
north of the Bangka–Belitung Islands and Borneo
The minute South China Sea Islands, collectively an archipelago, number in the hundreds. The sea and its mostly uninhabited islands are subject to competing claims of sovereignty by several countries. These claims are also reflected in the variety of names used for the islands and the sea.