It’s typhoon season in the South China Sea—and China’s fake islands could be washed away

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It’s typhoon season in the South China Sea—and China’s fake islands could be washed away

Typhoon Nida is barreling through the South China Sea, after dumping over 300 millimeters of rain on the Philippines over the weekend. As Hong Kong braces for landfall sometime tonight (Aug. 1), some controversial, much-less-populated landmasses may already be feeling the brunt of the storm.
That’s because in the past few years China has rapidly built artificial islands in the South China Sea, cramming them with buildings, runways, and lighthouses—even a farm—in an effort to bolster its territorial claim to most of the sea. Those projects came under legal attack in a landmark ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague on July 12, which took up the case under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
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