Re: Not as far as they are concerned
> Do you have a reference for that? I'd be interested in reading about that.
In most cases if an artificial island is created in international waters that is unable to sustain human habitation then it's regarded as a permanently anchored ship at sea. Up to now the vast majority of cases of such islands have been for aviation and given that aerial photos of all the sites in question consist of "a runway and not much else" I'd say they fall under this definition.
This isn't a case of building these islands in uncontested International waters.
Most of the spots China's laid claim to - and starting building up are shoals and reefs on other countries' continental shelves and recognised (except by china) exclusive economic zones. In some cases these sites are extremely close to or even inside 12 mile territorial waters and that's a big a problem. In the case of the Philippines (Scarborough Shoal) they've been blockading access by fishermen and the Philippine navy to shoals within 20 miles of the shore.
The few spots which don't match this are claimed by a number of countries as being within 200 miles of their shoreline and therefore within overlapping economic zones/territorial claims. They're _all_ a lot further than 200 miles from any recognised chinese land claims and as such chinese claims on them aren't recognised under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The "Pacified Southern Provinces" are unlikely to take this laying down but they've tended to rely on the USA as their guard dog. It's worth noting that the shoals in question aren't thought to have that much oil under them, but I can see them being used as jumping off points to laying claim to the large known fields which are in other countries exclusive economic zones.
The International court of the Hague decision at http://www.pcacases.com/web/sendAttach/1503 notes that China refuses to recognise the court because they claim that the Phils agreed to negotiation and going to court isn't negotiation (but it is what you do when you've reached an impasse) - that's pretty typical bullying behaviour and whilst they may say they don't recognise the court the ramifications for a lot of other stuff are such that they will probably blink.
In any case China has effectively recognised the court by filing arguments claiming that the court doesn't have jurisdiction on the grounds that this is a soverienty case, not a UN Law of the Sea one - the court has firmly rejected that claim.