Primer: Mischief Reef

Sunday , 5, June 2011 Leave a comment discussion

The Spratly / Kalayaan Island Group issue made its way to Philippine consciousness in 1995 when China built structures on a hitherto unoccupied submerged atoll appropriately called “Mischief Reef”.  The following New York Times story was one of the articles that heralded the event to the world:

New York Times archive

The reef is part of the Spratly Islands, a chain of more than 100 tiny atolls and other rocky formations that straddle vital shipping lanes and, more importantly, are believed to shelter large oil reserves. The Spratlys are claimed in full or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

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The Chinese platform was discovered on Feb. 2, when a Philippine patrol boat and reconnaissance plane followed up on the report of a Filipino fisherman who said he had been taken captive by Chinese soldiers on the reef. It is also known in the Philippines as Panganiban Reef and is about 135 miles west of the Philippine island of Palawan.

Aerial photographs show that the platform is made up four octagonal structures perched on stilts over the reef, with a satellite dish for communications with the Chinese mainland. A Chinese flag flutters high above the platform.

While Philippine military officials reported that Chinese soldiers have been seen on the platform, foreign diplomats and military analysts agreed that it had no value as a military staging area or supply depot. They say the platform was meant instead to serve as a marker of Chinese territorial claims.

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The octagonal structure described in the article was, or eventually became, one of only three structures that were established around the periphery of the reef.

Marker in large image Google Earth image Aerial photo
Mischief 1 To be added
Mischief 2
Mischief 3

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