Yagong Island | Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Estimated read time 6 min read

Yagong Island is an uninhabited island in the South China Sea. It’s also one of the most heavily militarized features in the area, with a whopping 2,000 military personnel stationed on the island. China has been rapidly expanding its influence in the region, and Yagong Island is a key part of that effort. In this blog post, we’ll explore what Yagong Island is and why it matters. We’ll also take a look at how you can use the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative to track China’s military buildup in the region.

Yagong Island | Location

Located in the South China Sea, Yagong Island is an uninhabited island that is part of the Spratly Islands. The island is 1,915 square kilometers and has a total land area of 348 square kilometers. It is administratively under the jurisdiction of Hainan Province.

The island’s natural resources include marine life, oil and gas reserves, and potential deposits of coal and rare earth elements. The island can also be used for military purposes due to its strategic location. In addition, it has been claimed by both Taiwan and China.

Yagong Island was added to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) Watch List in December 2014 for its lack of compliance with United Nations guidelines on exclusive economic zones (EEZ). China has claimed Yagong Island as part of Hainan Province, which makes it ineligible for inclusion on AMTI’s list of contested areas.

Yagong Island | History

The island of Yagong is located in the East China Sea and covers an area of 10 square kilometers. The island was first settled by humans around 4,000 years ago. Yagong Island was part of the Ming Dynasty and became a Japanese military base during World War II. The island was returned to Chinese control after the war.
Today, Yagong Island is a popular tourist destination for tourists from mainland China and Taiwan. It is also a popular filming location for movie productions.

Yagong Island | Development

Located in the South China Sea, Yagong Island is an uninhabited island claimed by the Philippines and Taiwan. The development of the island has been a focus of concern for several years, as it could provide a military base for China in the region. In response to concerns about development on Yagong Island, the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) launched an air and sea survey in October 2017.

The survey found that construction had begun on six new structures on the island, including a port and runway. AMTI’s findings suggest that China is using Yagong Island as a military facility, despite its claims to be establishing civilian facilities on the island. This underscores the need for accurate data on disputed areas in order to prevent future conflict.

Yagong Island | Naval Facilities

Since 2006, the Republic of China Navy has been garrisoning Yagong Island in the Taiwan Strait. The island is located within the ROC’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and has a military airfield. The island can accommodate up to 12 fighter aircraft and some surface combatants, making it an important naval facility for Taipei’s defense.

In February 2018, amid escalating tension between Beijing and Taipei, the Taiwanese military announced that it was moving all its F-16 fighters from Yagong Island to Taiwan proper in order to “maximize deterrence.” Chinese media interpreted this move as an indication of increasing mainland military activity on the island. Beijing has expressed concern that increased military activity by Taipei could lead to an escalation in cross-strait tensions.

Construction of Yagong Island began in 2006 during ROC President Chen Shui-bian’s term. The island was built as part of a larger package of measures intended to improve Taiwan’s defense capabilities in the aftermath of the 2000s Sunshine Policy period, which saw improved cross-strait ties between Taipei and Beijing. Construction on the island cost approximately $130 million and included the construction of a runway, housing for personnel, a base hospital, and other facilities.

The ROC maintains a garrison of around 650 personnel on Yagong Island along with 12 fighter aircraft and some surface combatants. The airfield can accommodate up to 12 fighter aircraft including F-16C/D models from both

Yagong Island | Geography

Yagong Island is an uninhabited island located in the East China Sea. It is administered as part of the Weihai City municipality, in Shandong province. The total area of the island is 0.5 square kilometers. Administratively, Yagong Island falls within the jurisdiction of Dachang Bay National Wildlife Reserve, a nature reserve established in 1948 and covering an area of 5,000 hectares.

The island has a natural environment that consists mainly of dense subtropical evergreen forests and rocky beaches with coral reefs. There are no public transportation or facilities on Yagong Island; visitors must bring their own food and water.

Although there are no inhabitants present on the island, it is home to a variety of unique wildlife including pandas, monkeys, and deer.

China’s Maritime Expansion in the South China Sea

China’s maritime expansion in the South China Sea has continued unabated over the past few years. In 2013, Beijing established an airbase on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands. This was followed by the construction of three new military bases on other disputed features – Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, and Mischief Reef – in 2014 and 2015.

Since then, China has turned these reefs into a major military outpost in the region, with extensive infrastructure built up around them including hospitals, schools, and civilian housing. This has drawn criticism from regional countries who claim that Beijing is trying to extend its control over the waters through military means.

The rise of China as a naval power has been accompanied by a string of disputes with other countries in the region, most notably Vietnam and Malaysia. These disputes have seen Beijing accuse both nations of seeking to ‘encircle’ China, while also expanding their own maritime territorial claims in the area.

In May 2016, Beijing launched an unprecedented global diplomatic campaign known as ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) which aims to build a vast trade network across Eurasia and south-east Asia. OBOR is seen by many analysts as part of a strategy to create a Chinese sphere of influence throughout Eurasia and South Asia. China’s maritime expansion in the South China Sea is therefore likely part of this wider strategy


Yagong Island is an important part of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, and we are grateful to be able to provide this resource. IMTI collects data on vessels operating in waters around the world through a network of over 50 observer ships and support aircraft. This information is essential for maritime security planners, as well as environmental advocates, and should not be taken lightly. We hope that you find this information useful and that it helps you better understand how shipping can have a significant impact on our environment.

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