Photos taken by a Thanh Nien reporter during a recent trip to Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands have shown the expansion of China's illegal construction work on the Johnson South Reef, also known as the Gac Ma Reef.
China illegally occupied the reef after a skirmish on March 14, 1988 during which Chinese naval frigates fired at Vietnamese navy's transport ships and soldiers, most of them unarmed.
Sixty-four Vietnamese soldiers were killed in the battle.
Soon after the occupation, China started building a military base on it. Since early this year, it has dredged the reef and constructed large, multi-story buildings and possibly an airstrip and harbor that can accommodate military planes and ships.
All of the buildings are painted white and are noticeable even from a 10-nautical-mile distance.