Chinese dredging vessels have been seen in the waters around the disputed Spratly IslandsREUTERS

Satellite pictures show that China has developed more than 70 acres of land that could be used for military purposes in two disputed island clusters in the South China Sea. Images released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, based in Washington, show new building over 72 acres including hangars, missile storage centres and radar bases in the Spratly and Paracel islands.

The monitoring group said that they could be used to supply nearby outposts with military equipment. It said Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly archipelago, had hangars, airstrips and underground structures that probably held munitions. “Beijing remains committed to advancing the next phase of its build-up: construction of the infrastructure necessary for fully functioning air and naval bases on the larger outposts,” the monitoring…