Translating into Chinese from the fourth paragraph of the following article

What’s behind Beijing’s drive to control the South China Sea?

On 26 May, CNN broadcast an unusual clip of a US navy intelligence flight over the South China Sea. The P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane – one of the newest weapons in the Pentagon’s arsenal – had taken off, with a CNN reporter on board, from Clark airbase in the Philippines, once part of America’s largest overseas base complex during the cold war. After about 45 minutes, the plane reached its first target – which had, until recently, been an obscure, almost entirely submerged feature in the Spratly Island group.

Fifteen thousand feet below, dozens of Chinese ships tossed at anchor. Their crews had been working day and night for weeks, dredging sand and rock from the ocean floor to fill in a stunning blue lagoon – turning a 3.7-mile-long reef that had only partially revealed itself to the daylight at low tide into a sizable man-made island nearly 1,000 miles away from the Chinese mainland.

At the approach of the American aircraft, a Chinese radio operator can be heard addressing the pilot: “This is the Chinese navy. This is the Chinese navy … Please leave immediately to avoid misunderstanding.” When the plane, which was busily photographing the land-reclamation effort, failed to heed these instructions, the operator grew exasperated, and the recording ends as abruptly as it had begun, with him shouting the words: “You go!”

For many people who viewed this clip, it might have almost passed for entertainment, but the plane continued on to a place called Fiery Cross, whose history and recent development point to how deadly serious the struggle over the South China Sea has become. Fiery Cross came under Chinese control in 1988, following a confrontation with Vietnam at a nearby site, Johnson Reef, where Chinese troops opened fire from a ship on a contingent of Vietnamese soldiers who stood in knee-deep seas after having planted their country’s flag in the coral. A YouTube video of the incident shows dozens of Vietnamese being cut down in the water under a hail of machine-gun fire.

China had come late to the game of laying claim to parts of the Spratly archipelago, which comprises hundreds of uninhabited coral reefs and sandbars flung across a vast area between the coasts of the Philippines and southern Vietnam, each of which has long controlled numerous positions in the area. But in this bloody way, China announced that it was fully committed. Its position on Fiery Cross Reef, staked out back in the 1980s, was initially justified under the auspices of Unesco, which had called on the nations of the world to cooperate in collectively surveying the oceans for meteorological and navigation purposes. Fast-forward 28 years, though, and as seen from the American surveillance flight, what had begun as an innocuous “ocean observation station”, has now mushroomed in less than a year of dredging into the most important of Beijing’s seven newly created positions in the South China Sea.

From a single coral head that peaked a mere metre out of the waves, Fiery Cross has grown in stunning fashion, attaining a size of over 200 hectares of reclaimed land – roughly equivalent to about 280 football pitches. Leaving little doubt about its purpose, it has already been equipped with a 3,300-metre airstrip, which is long enough to accommodate a wide range of Chinese combat and transport planes, and a harbour big enough to handle even the largest of the country’s ships.

The primary attraction of this locale, though, may be something that cannot be perceived from even the most sophisticated surveillance plane, which from China’s perspective is precisely the point. Fiery Cross appears to have been chosen by Beijing as the keystone in its push into the South China Sea because of the depths of its surrounding waters, which afford Chinese submarines far greater stealth in evading acoustic and other forms of active tracking by the US military.

There is no single explanation for why asserting its authority over the South China Sea now matters so much to China. Controlling the many tiny islands is in part a matter of controlling of the wealth assumed to lay beneath the sea in the form of unexploited minerals and oil and gas, not to mention the immense fisheries that exist in these waters. It is in part a matter of increasing the country’s sense of security, by dominating the maritime approaches to its long coast, and securing sea lanes to the open Pacific. It is in part a matter of overcoming historical grievances. And finally, it is about becoming a power at least on par with the US: a goal that Chinese leaders are themselves somewhat coy about, but which is now increasingly entering the public discourse.

The best place to see all these reasons at work is the country’s southernmost province, the island of Hainan.

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China’s neighbours have watched with growing alarm as Beijing has used maritime vessels, often setting out from Hainan, to harass and intimidate the far smaller rival claimants whose littoral territories both enclose the South China Sea and lend it definition. Recently, for example, China sent a large flotilla of ships close to the shores of Vietnam as it deployed a billion-dollar oil rig that an official of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation described as “our national mobile territory”, while it made a show of prospecting for crude in deep water. As it did so, China kept a collection of much smaller, protesting Vietnamese vessels at bay by blasting them with massive water cannons powerful enough to sink many ships. At other locations, not far away, Chinese ships have intercepted vessels from the Philippines – sometimes by deliberately ramming them – to stop them from resupplying troops who guard disputed coral reefs that lie several times closer to Filipino shores than to anything conventionally understood as Chinese territory. It was against this backdrop that China began its own crash programme of dredging the oceans to build man-made islands in at least seven locations in the South China Sea in 2014.