China plans to build a supersized sand dredging vessel to boost its island-building capability, the South China Morning Post reported earlier this week.
Using a drill-like reamer device, a dredging vessel can tear up the seabed to build artificial islands.
It sucks up sand and rocks, pumping them to other locations through a long pipe.
According to the report, the super-dredger will be 50 percent more powerful than China’s existing island-building vessels.
It will feature a 10,000-kilowatt reamer, way above the 6,600-kilowatt power of the Tian Kun and 4,400 kilowatts of the Tian Jing.
“The development of the new vessel is not just a simple enlargement in terms of reamer power, hull size, etc, but a qualitative leap forward,” Tian Kun and Tian Jing operator Qin Bin said.
Apart from building islands, the new dredging vessel will also clear navigation waterways.
China has been building artificial islands in the South China Sea to increase its already-growing influence in the region.
A top US military official also claimed last year that the Asian nation has fully militarized at least three artificially-constructed islands in the disputed maritime territory.
The controversial activities force Taiwan and other countries to divert more resources to their Coast Guards rather than their armed forces, according to a 2022 Foreign Policy article.
Many consider building more artificial islands as Beijing’s maritime gray zone strategy to normalize the activities internationally.
Meanwhile, a Reuters report in February 2021 suggested that all China’s sand-dredging operations are part of psychological warfare against Taiwan, which it views as its territory.