China’s militarization of the South China Sea has taken an unexpected twist. A farm was sprinkled in among the military facilities constructed on the artificial islands popping up in the highly contested area.
The Chinese government has added some non-militaristic features to the islands, possibly in a thinly-veiled attempt to disguise their true intentions. Hospitals, gardens, lighthouses, and Céline Dion cover artists are all expected to appear on the islands in the near future.
The latest conveniently placed civilian institution is a farm, built on an island situated over the Fiery Cross Reef.
The state-owned media outlet, Xinhua, reports that over 500 animals have been raised on the farm. Pigs, chicken, and geese have all become common sights on the disputed island. It also sports a vegetable garden that covers about 4,000 square meters and a small fish pond.
The area above the Fiery Cross Reef, where the island is located, is currently claimed by China and several other countries in the area. An international tribunal is expected to deny China’s claim in the next few weeks. It is believed that the Chinese governement is building non-military institutions on the island to legitimize their claim.
Xinhua reported that a Hospital, that covers 60,000 square meters, is also in the process of being constructed. A brand new lighthouse is also reportedly in the process of being built.
The coming changes are allegedly being made in preparation for tourism. The islands received their first tourists, Chinese citizens, earlier this year. The Chinese government also arranged for Song Zuying, a popular Chinese singer, to appear for a concert that took place in May.
China has pulled similar stunts on the nearby “Woody Island.” where several vacation resorts are being constructed. Satellite images revealed that missile launchers were transported to the Island after construction on the resorts had already started. Sources believe these non-military facilities are meant to distract other countries from medaling in China’s movement in the area.