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China has conducted large-scale dredging operations for several years in order to build man-made islands in contested South China Sea regions such as the Spratly Islands. These have since been transformed into military bases, complete with runways.
However, Beijing-based military magazine Naval and Merchant Ships, published by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, has said the islands have “natural disadvantages in self-defence”, according to the South China Morning Post.
The magazine reportedly claims the islands help China maintain a military presence but are so far from the Chinese mainland that they would be difficult to provide support for if they were attacked.
It also warns most of the islands only have one runway and were limited in space needed to provide support to aircraft.
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Meanwhile, last week a US official claimed China has intensified “malign foreign influence” efforts over the Biden administration.
William Evanina, head of the Director of National Intelligence’s counter-intelligence branch, told a virtual discussion at the Aspen Institute Think Tank: “We’ve also seen an uptick, which was planned and we predicted, that China would now re-vector their influence campaigns to the new administration.”
John Demers, chief of the justice department’s national security division, added over 1,000 “PLA-affiliated Chinese researchers” had left the US and that the FBI had arrested five or six Chinese researchers with secret links to the Chinese military, the BBC reports.
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It comes amid speculation over what stance Joe Biden, the incoming US president, will take on China.
Ferdnando Nelli Ferrucci, president of the Istituto Affari Internazionali, an Italian international relations think-tank, told Business Insider he does not think the US’ “attitude” towards China would change under Mr Biden’s new administration.
However, he believes Mr Biden would be keener than Mr Trump to involve “European allies in dealing with China” and establish a shared strategy “without ultimatums” and “without blackmails”.
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Jim O’Neill, chair of the UK-based Chatham House think tank, told CNBC last week he thinks China feels “more concerned” by a Biden administration than a Trump one.
He added the Biden administration would “use existing multinational fora to try and hold China to account more by the standards of such international fora whether it be the WHO, G20, World Bank.”
Under current US President Donald Trump, Washington has issued sharp rhetoric to Beijing on a range of issues.
In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set out Washington’s stance on Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.
He wrote: “We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”
Mr Trump has also been critical of China regarding the coronavirus pandemic, which is thought to have first appeared there.
He used his speech at the UN in September to place the blame on China for pandemic, and defended his decision to impose a travel ban on the country.
He told the UN to “hold China accountable for their actions” and added: “The Chinese government and the World Health Organization — which is virtually controlled by China — falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.”
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