China upgraded the runway on Kanton Island

China upgraded the runway on Kanton Island

Recently, Reuters reported that the tiny Kiribati archipelago could become one of the hot spots of US-China relations as the country appears to open opportunities for Chinese contractors to participate in the infrastructure project, namely an abandoned American runway.

China exposes state lines on the Kanton knife
The island nation Kiribati holds an important geopolitical position. Photo: AP

Specifically, China has planned to upgrade the runway at the place where US military aircraft were frequented during World War II, now abandoned.

This site belongs to the Kiribati archipelago, more than 3,000 kilometers southwest of Hawaii. Reuters news agency (UK) said the plan includes construction on the island of Kanton Kiribati.

This abandoned US runway is believed to be able to support fighter deployment if it is modernized and upgraded. In addition, it is also possible to launch military reconnaissance aircraft from Kanton Island because it has a strategic location between Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.

China exposes state lines on the Kanton knife
Canton airport in the Kiribati archipelago. Photo: Daily Mail

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the country was studying a plan to upgrade and improve the runway after the Kiribati government proposed to change domestic traffic in the archipelago. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also declared that cooperation with Kiribati was “bilateral interest” and “assistance without any political conditions”.

So far, Kiribati has not announced costs and other specific information regarding the cooperation plan with China.

In Kiribati, opposition MP Tessie Lambourne voiced concern about the project, asking for clarification whether the project was part of China’s Belt and Road (BRI) initiative. or not.

China exposes state lines on the Kanton knife
Kiribati President Taneti Maamau, left and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ahead of the meeting in Beijing in 2020. Photo: AP

The Australian Institute of Strategic Policy (ASPI) in its 2020 analysis suggested that China-related facilities in Kiribati would be located on the main sea route connecting North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Any construction activity on Kanton Island helps China establish a significant presence in territory that was once a US base and an ally during World War II.

“Kanton will be a fixed aircraft carrier” of China, a senior adviser in the government of an island nation in the Pacific told Reuters.

China exposes state lines on the Kanton knife
Location of Kiribati.

As a small island nation, Kiribati, with a population of just about 120,000, controls one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world, over 3.5 million square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean. Here

In terms of military combat, the 3,000 km distance between Kanton and Hawaii is not that far. For example, the fifth generation J-20 stealth fighter, developed by China, has a range of up to 5,900 km, which means that Hawaii is within the combat radius of the J-20. No supplies needed.

Combined with long-range missiles, a military presence on Kanton Island helps Chinese forces increase their ability to attack against Hawaii and even some areas of the US west coast in the event of a conflict between two great powers.

Hai Lam


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