The country will develop an “island city” in the disputed waters. However, the Trump administration criticised their move to transform three islands into a “national key strategic service and logistics base,” the South China Morning Post reported. Senior policy analyst Jeffrey Engstrom revealed to Newsweek the project could raise tensions between China and the US.
He said: “It seems that the proposed infrastructure on and near Woody Island is still in the early stages of planning.
“However, if built, additional basing infrastructure and logistics nodes allow China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Navy, coast guard and the maritime militia to further expand presence and operational tempo in the South China Sea (SCS).
“This has the ability to raise tensions by placing even more pressure than we have witnessed so far on the other SCS claimants and routine US military activity in the region.”
The news follows the US sending two B-52H Stratofortress bombers to fly over the area in a “routine training mission” earlier this month.
China has faced international criticism after claiming the South China Sea as part of its historic territory.
The move is disputed under international law and the US has tried to push back its claims by sending freedom of navigation missions of ships and aircraft to monitor the area.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused China of “illegal-island building in international waterways” after China warned them to “steer clear of these areas”.
The South China Sea is currently controlled by the People’s Republic of China despite claims by other nations including Vietnam, Taiwan, Cambodia, Brunei and the Philippines.
The area is subject to a huge amount of international sea trade and is believed to harbour large amounts of oil and natural gases.
Last month, the US Navy sent two guided-missile destroyers near the Chinese manmade islands in a bid to show off its military presence.
The two warships completed their passage in a move that China has constantly objected to.
However China has insisted its navy is one of the largest in the world and capable of competing with the US.