World

Report says China building airstrip on reclaimed island in contested South China Sea

  • A protester displays a placard during a rally at the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines Friday, April 17, 2015 to protest against Beijing's land reclamation activities on disputed territory in the South China Sea. The protesters led by Congressman Nery Colmenares urge China to "stop its reclamation activities in the Mischief Reef" which they claim to be still within the Philippines' EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    A protester displays a placard during a rally at the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines Friday, April 17, 2015 to protest against Beijing's land reclamation activities on disputed territory in the South China Sea. The protesters led by Congressman Nery Colmenares urge China to "stop its reclamation activities in the Mischief Reef" which they claim to be still within the Philippines' EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protesters display placards during a rally at the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city east of Manila, Philippines Friday, April 17, 2015 to protest against Beijing's land reclamation activities on disputed territory in the South China Sea. The protesters led by Congressman Nery Colmenares urge China to "stop its reclamation activities in the Mischief Reef" which they claim to be still within the Philippines' EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Protesters display placards during a rally at the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city east of Manila, Philippines Friday, April 17, 2015 to protest against Beijing's land reclamation activities on disputed territory in the South China Sea. The protesters led by Congressman Nery Colmenares urge China to "stop its reclamation activities in the Mischief Reef" which they claim to be still within the Philippines' EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

  • Protesters display placards during a rally at the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines Friday, April 17, 2015 to protest moves by China in "fortifying" its claims at the disputed Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea. The protesters led by Congressman Nery Colmenares urge China to "stop its  reclamation activities in the Mischief Reef" which they claim to be still within the Philippines' EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

    Protesters display placards during a rally at the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines Friday, April 17, 2015 to protest moves by China in "fortifying" its claims at the disputed Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea. The protesters led by Congressman Nery Colmenares urge China to "stop its reclamation activities in the Mischief Reef" which they claim to be still within the Philippines' EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)  (The Associated Press)

A report says China has begun work on a new airstrip on an artificially created island in a disputed section of the South China Sea.

IHS Jane's says satellite images of Fiery Cross Reef taken March 23 show a runway more than 500 meters (1,640 feet) long as well as paved sections of apron. The U.S. says China is carrying out eight such land reclamation projects in the area.

Jane's says the island is already big enough for a runway 3,000 meters (9,500 feet) long that would be able to accommodate air force planes.

The airfield construction also was mentioned by the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific at a congressional hearing on Wednesday. Adm. Samuel Locklear said the reclamation work would allow China to exert more influence in the contested region.