If you think the Great Barrier Reef is in trouble, spare a tear for Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands. In 2014 China started pumping perhaps millions of tonnes of sand from the bottom of the ocean on to this semi-submersed formation in the South China Sea.
Within a year it had created an artificial island with a hardened surface area of 400ha, boasting a commodious harbour that can shelter dozens of ships and an airport with a 3000m runway.
Western Sydney Airport project managers, take note: if you want to get the job done before 2026, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy should be your contractor of choice.
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