Chinese Land Reclamation in the South China Sea: Implications and Policy Options [June 18, 2015] [open pdf - 619KB]
"Since September 2013, China has undertaken extensive reclamation and construction on several reefs in the Spratly Island chain in the South China Sea, raising a variety of concerns in the United States and Asia. The reclamation has created over 2,000 acres (809 hectares) of artificial landmasses on Chinese-occupied reefs that are disputed between several countries and are located in some of the world's most heavily trafficked waters. China announced on June 16, 2015 that its reclamation work would be completed 'in the upcoming days,' and that when reclamation was finished, it would turn to building facilities on the newly created artificial islands. The reclamation activity continues a series of assertive actions by China in the South China Sea as Beijing seeks to more actively stress its sovereignty claims in the area. […] This, some observers argue, raises the question of whether the United States has developed a strategy for countering Chinese actions, and if so, whether that strategy is adequate. China states that its activities are legal, reflecting its claim of sovereignty over the affected features, and notes that other South China Sea claimants have also reclaimed areas on features that they occupy. […] This report assesses legal, military/operational, and diplomatic implications of the reclamation and construction activity. It surveys U.S. and Chinese statements on the situation, provides a history of reclamation activity by other nations including the United States and other South China Sea claimants, and discusses U.S. strategy and potential options for U.S. policymakers."
CRS Report for Congress, R44072