A place called ‘hope’: the tiny island on the frontline of US-China tensions

More than 100 Filipinos live 15 miles from one of Beijing’s most ambitious island bases in the South China Sea

A Filipino soldier patrolling the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea.
A Filipino soldier patrolling the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea. Photograph: Reuters

On the horizon, the azure sea water stops and the white, concrete structures of the Chinese military base rise up.

“Sometimes we get nervous because we are only civilians. If they invade the island, they can harm us. They can do whatever they want,” says Romeo Malaguit, a fisherman and father of two, who lives on the nearby Philippine-claimed island Thitu.

Locally known as Pag-asa, meaning hope in Tagalog, Thitu is a tree-studded settlement no more than 1.5km long and 800 metres wide. A dilapidated runway takes up almost half the area. Tiếp tục đọc “A place called ‘hope’: the tiny island on the frontline of US-China tensions”