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Islands in a Storm

2014 satellite photo shows Chinese land reclamation on Fiery Reef, with dredging ships in the harbor                                                                      CNES 2014
Washington recently announced plans to sail warships in the South China Seas. Not that big a deal, except that they would be in an area around islands China claims, and now China has responded. "We will never allow any country to violate China's territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight," said China's foreign ministry spokesperson. The area is a local fishing ground and a major shipping zone, and the U.S. and others are concerned that China may be building military bases on the islands, whose ownership is in contention to begin with. China has been enlarging some of the islands and recently finished building two lighthouses on the Spratlys. What's going on here? What's the background, and which other countries are laying claim to the islands?:

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