The West Philippine Sea: High tide or low tide?

"High tide or low tide?" was the answer given by then-Ms. Philippines-Universe candidate Charlene Gonzales when asked in the Ms. Universe 1994 competition how many islands the Philippines had.

This will also be an important part of the decision of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), set to be released today, on the case submitted by the Philippine government against China on their maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

Here in a series of photos are some of the developments on some of the maritime features (islands, rocks, low-tide elevations) being disputed in the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea as the Philippine government calls the area, and their current status.

China has aggressively expanded its footprint in the West Philippine Sea, using its nine-dash-line map to justify its presence in some reefs. It has undertaken land reclamation and sent out more vessels to fortify its control over the area.

Given its weak military force, the Philippines went to the PCA in a bid to check China's growing presence and control over the South China Sea, which has affected the livelihood of Filipino fishermen.

These photographs from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) give us a clearer perspective of the expanding Chinese presence in some of the reefs in the South China Sea.

Mobile users can view the desktop version of this slideshow here.

Photo Credit: CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe

Cuarteron Reef

U.S. Board of Geographic Names: Cuarteron Reef
Chinese: Huayang Jiao (华阳礁)

Philippine: Calderon Reef
Vietnamese: Bãi Châu Viên

The artificial island at Cuarteron Reef saw most of its construction and dredging during the summer of 2014.
Construction of buildings and facilities continues today.

Share your views