Fresh Water Reservoir Could Lead to Exclusion Zone in South China Sea

A large reservoir of freshwater was discovered beneath Fiery Cross Reef, one of the artificial islands China made in the South China Sea. The reservoir is growing at a rate of about 1 meter (3.3 feet) per year. This is twice as fast as reservoir water level growth in naturally formed islands. Freshwater can support agriculture. Agriculture can be exported. Islands that are habitable and have commerce can qualify for UN exclusion zones.

Fiery Cross Reef is 2 square kilometers (0.77 sq miles or about 470 acres).

Annual rainfall was nearly 3.0 meters (118 inches) at the reef. This is five times the average in mainland China. A belt of freshwater was found floating on top of the saltwater. This phenomenon, known as a “freshwater lens”, can take up to 150 years to form and stabilize on a naturally formed island. The freshwater lens appeared just two years after the land was reclaimed. This year it measured 7 meters (23 feet). It will expand to depth of 15 meters (49 feet) by 2035.

It now has about 5000 acre-feet of water (if the reservoir is under all of the island). This would fill 2500 Olympic swimming pools. This will more than double by 2035.

This is enough water to support over ten thousand people. They could also provide food and water for fisherman who are using the islands.

CSIS has a satellite image from MAXAR of the island from March 2020

Freshwater will help support troops on the island and more importantly farming for export to qualify for an exclusion zone.

The island has 12 hardened shelters with retractable roofs for mobile missile launchers. It has enough hangars to accommodate 24 combat aircraft and four larger planes. Fiery Cross reef has a runway long enough to land a Chinese Xian H-6N bomber.

The Chinese Navy grew about 1,653 pounds of bok choy cabbage, lettuce and baby Chinese cabbage on the Paracel Islands’ sandy beaches.

If the islands can support agriculture, then crops could be exported. Creating a market is part of long-term strategy to use the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to back up claims to the islands.

Article 121, the Regime of Islands, of the UNCLOS, states, “Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.”

Growing 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of tomatoes using intensive farming methods requires 400 liters of water but only 70 liters using hydroponics. 115-acre feet of water is about 140 million liters of water.
They could grow 2 thousand tons of tomatoes if hydroponics was used. Rainwater traps could boost triple the freshwater accumulation.

Written by Brian Wang,

33 thoughts on “Fresh Water Reservoir Could Lead to Exclusion Zone in South China Sea”

  1. I think they should just let China overtake them and then copy and plagiarise everything China pioneers. What will China do about that? start a war? not likely is it. Maybe spread another couple of virus sounds like a more likely alternative.

  2. I like it. Those islets are clearly defensive in nature. They cannot
    attack Pearl Harbor from there. I’d let them live and buy their
    cabbage also.

  3. It also requires coordinated and coherent US government action without internal self sabotage for short term political gain.
    Is the USA good at that?

  4. Is a harder target more difficult? I can imagine that destroying a hardened bunker may well be an easier task than destroying a enormous pile of wet sand.

  5. Perhaps.  (300 planes, 2 aircraft carriers, carrier groups)

    I think we’ve gotten quite a bit more sophisticated tho’, in the last 20 years, at dealing with seemingly well fortified, well supplied, well armed military outposts.  


    [1] starts days in advance.  

    [2] is the breakout procedure. Satellite links, internet links, 

    [3] kills off short-and-long range sensing. Radar, LIDAR, ELFDAR.  

    [4] gets guns-and-boots on the ground, ultra-close ranging of objectives, resources, infrastructure.  

    [5] kill the generators, water, ‘flowing’ resources. Torch the jet fuel, petrol, LPG.  

    [6] takes out missile silos, runways, parts depots, repair failities.  

    [7] is the open-white-door, the honorable way to defuse the situation. One boot at a time. 

    [8] mops up the stalwarts. 

    [9] is the geopolitical gambit: report early, often, in detail, with video, with credible casualties reports. Be first to issue complaints. A LOT OF THEM.  

    Still, that scenario requires a substantial amount of firepower, planning, training, and commandeering of resources. We’re pretty good at that. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  6. Yes, the US can crush these islands. But it would take a full task force and a lot of planes. About 300 or more planes and probably two aircraft carrier task forces. Which would likely trigger escalation and missile volleys from the mainland

  7. USA – Mind your own business/ coastal waters

    Those are China’s backyard, as Cali and Florida waters are yours. You just need to study a map for a few second to realise that.
    How would you feel if China would send her ships there and complaining abour your presence there and whatever you were doing in your own backyard? 

    World is tired of USA policing, save those wasted trillions and invest every penny in your infra, education, science and technology, people. Maybe then US will stop looking like 3rd word compared to “developing” China. You do not have a choice, if you will still waste such amount of money, China will catch up and reach unreachable escape velocity in a year or maybe even faster, looking at their current momentum in catch up in science and technology.
    I do not want weak US, I want strong, innovative US in science and tech, but to be like that you need to invest serious amount of $ in S&T, not waste them. At least reach Korea level of 4,5%

    Advice from a friendly country/ally

  8. Shipping and injecting 6.2 million tonnes of fresh water would a big job. Doing it secretly is impressive too.

  9. How deep do you think you can live underground on an island that is like three feet above sea level?

  10. You seem talkative today! What a thing! 

    There’s a small flaw in your argument, of “single missile can take out an aircraft carrier (out to) a few thousand miles”.

    Namely that still today missiles need guidance as to where to go. 
    They perhaps “have the brains” if they get within either RADAR or visual range…
    … to course change possibly to select the right target
    … and possibly to hit it with fairly high probability.
    IF they manage to arrive undetected.

    But since aircraft carrier groups can suddenly change course and knock 50+ knots, hourly guidance can be off by a bunch.  

    Any missile that EMITS radar, will of course announce itself … the same thousands of miles in advance. No AC group is going to miss the incoming, and not put up effective countermeasures. 

    Any missile relying on passive guidance (i.e. RADAR homing to the carrier’s various ships) will show up as an incoming bird, hundreds of miles out. Defenses will be slewed into action.

    Any which is entirely passive, relying just on line-of-sight, low flying, just-in-time course setting, will be sorely disappointed by the disappearance of the carrier group.  


    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  11. Sorry, i wasn’t aware there were international laws against building artificial islands. Could you point me in the right direction of the particular law you’re referencing?

  12. Don’t be ridiculous – it’s a violation of international law, and that’s why other countries don’t do this. China just does what it pleases, international law be damned.

  13. All runways can be fixed. That’s not the point. The point is only deny use to the runway for a period of time… and if you genuinely think China has the ability to stop a fleet of cruise missiles, you might want to second think that proposition.

  14. Air strips can be fixed. They have bulldozers to patch a crater. Plus they have dozens and can put hundreds of missiles there. Each missile can sink an air craft carrier or other surface ship out a few thousand miles. Your fleet is going to ignore a missile battery? You think your fleet can just float up and take pot shots? Unlike lesser militaries, China has area denial which mean thousands of missiles. If the US goes full on attack they have to step up to a major military force.

  15. “It is immobile but would take 100s of missiles.”

    Hundreds of missiles? Not really. It just takes one to make the runway unusable, and if it’s sufficiently powerful enough, it would make a crater below the water line, as well as significantly damage other structures outside of the runway.

  16. The primary purpose of those islands isn’t to be a war time asset like a carrier, it’s part of an economic play. 

    China will continue, quite practically unchallenged, to expand its territorial claims to all plausible islets in the SCS

    Not that there is anything wrong with that.  
    Everyone is free to build artificial islands and develop them to the point they can gain recognition. Forward thinking and vision does have its rewards.

  17. Sorry, but bunker busters are designed to take out far harder targets than an island made of sand, gravel and concrete with a high water table. As GoatGuy says, they cannot move, which is reminiscent of the Maginot line. I actually pity the poor saps stuck on that island if the fecal matter hits the rotational air motivator. These islands are political in nature, not military, for all their military hardware planted on them.

  18. What you post is true. They would be harder to neutralize than an aircraft carrier group, yes. But unlike an aircraft carrier group, they don’t move around. Ballistic missiles love those kind of targets. If you add “surprise submarine attack” from perhaps only 500 km away, you’ve got a lil’ island whose battery of military people would hardly have time to turn on the light-switches in their barracks from the moment of a surprise offensive launch to the cratering of their sovereign spit.  

    Anyway, in “reality”, America (or Russian, India, France, Britain) are not very likely to have an opening salvo of nukes in any conflict in-and-about the South China Sea. Just not going to happen. China will continue, quite practically unchallenged, to expand its territorial claims to all plausible islets in the SCS. Many-a-complaint will be lodged with the UN, and everyone will drink cappuccino and eat biscuits.  Protests written, bureaucrats paid, diplomats wishing and washing away the sins of The Dragon.

    That is reality.
    Like it or not.
    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  19. A lot tougher to sink than an aircraft carrier. Aircraft carrier decks are about 4.5 acres. This is 100 times the area. This is made of rock, gravel, dirt with cement bunkers. Over 200 hectares. It is immobile but would take 100s of missiles. Plus underground bunkers. If they had tunnels then they could move soldiers and equipment under a fair bit of protection. Plus it is not defenseless they have radar and missiles.
    It would be MacArthur hitting the Japanese islands. You can hit them first to take out missiles but it would be an exchange of missiles. Then you bombard them. It cost $11 billion to fortify each island. About the cost of US aircraft carrier. These islands are better than the inferior aircraft carriers that China can make now which are even more sitting ducks.

  20. So… an artificial island with a nice long aircraft landing strip.  Let’s see. Looks like an immobile aircraft carrier. 

    Hmmm… what could go wrong with that?
    Yep, that’d be a problem in a hot conflict.  

    A (let’s be real, there is only one, really) competent superpower might just decide to carpet-bomb the spit of fake land back into the sea. In a few hours. Or, if nuclear isn’t off the table, in a few seconds.  

    Imperious as the Chinese are, they most certainly are aware of the Clauswitzian Deal-with-the-Devil they’ve embraced by creating and now offensively ‘defending’ their extended maritime sovereign claim. With great claims of sovereignty, come large TESTS of that sovereignty. Sitting ducks tend to become itty-bitty bits of flotsam when the so-called shît hits the fan.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  21. Power addicts humiliate themselves mercilessly. Enjoy the show! They don’t even realize they are neurotic, yet.

  22. Fiery Cross is almost 2 3/4 times larger than NYC’s Governor’s Island, which hosts thousands of tourists a year, and which was once a major military base and now has an extensive network of trails, bike lanes, ferry depots, dozens of large buildings, restaurants, overnight accommodations and parks.
    So yes, it’s hard to deny that Fiery Cross can be considered an island territory, but is it rightfully China’s? That depends on who you ask, perhaps.

  23. 1- This is not natural for sure: They are injecting fresh water to ask the exclusion zone.
    2- These datas coming from china are not of confidence.

  24. This is how China bot agents are working to help legitimize the empire of the viruses territory grabs… Their leader thinks that he can steal not only the bot minds of his people but also that of the rest of the world.

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