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Author Topic: China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip  (Read 874 times)

Matt Revington

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China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip
« on: January 20, 2022, 09:42:47 AM »


This was announced last summer but the US and Australia are voicing concern now, China claims the develop is for peaceful reasons only.  It might make Niku more accessible in the future.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/11/pacific-faces-strategic-surprise-says-us-official-alluding-to-china
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2022, 11:08:26 AM »

There is no upside to this development.
Kiribati has always been firmly aligned with the West. This new alignment with China is a serious loss to western interests.
"Kiribati said in May the China-backed plans were a non-military project designed to improve transport links and bolster tourism."
Pull the other one. Since when does China give a shit about Kiribati tourism? A Chinese base on Kanton would put the Phoenix Islands and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area within China's sphere of influence. A base on Kanton would give China a platform 800 miles form American Samoa, 1,800 miles from Hawaii, 2,000 miles form New Zealand, and 2,200 miles from Australia.
TIGHAR has always had great relations with the Kiribati government, but now any proposed TIGHAR activity in the Phoenix Group will have pass muster with the Chinese.
Fortunately, so far the development of Kanton is all talk (which has been true for many years) and TIGHAR has no plans to return to Niku.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2022, 12:20:16 PM »

Interesting.  USCG C-130s out of Honolulu regularly provide emergency medical transportation to Kiribati residents on Kanton.  They were our back up in case we had a major injury during an expedition to Niku. 
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Don White

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Re: China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2022, 12:31:01 PM »

The Coast Guard has always gotten a lot of the mucky jobs including in out of the way or unexpected places. In Vietnam they were patrolling the rivers inspecting sampans for Viet Cong activities. One of my father's classmates was shot up and nearly died in a friendly fire incident during one of those patrols.

This seems an opportunity, though off-topic, to inform Tighar that my retired USCG officer father, Capt. Lawrence A. White, died last Friday morning of pneumonia after a two-week hospitalization. He would have been 95 on June 4. We had often discussed TIGHAR's work and I had consulted him on questions relating to the USCG's involvement in the Earhart flights. This included asking him if he had heard of or met Warner Thompson since their careers overlapped (he hadn't).

LTM,
Don
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2022, 12:54:08 PM »

I'm sorry for your loss Don.  Where did your father serve?
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Jeff Lange

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Re: China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2022, 02:47:16 PM »

From the son of one Coastie to another- sorry for your loss, glad he lived a long life and was part of the Greatest Generation!

Semper Paratus!
Jeff Lange

# 0748CR
 
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Don White

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Re: China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2022, 08:23:42 PM »

Replying to Rick asking where my father served. My mother has asked for contributions to his obituary, at which my mind went immediately blank. Your question has helped me think again.

His service was mostly up and down the East Coast with two exceptions, his first ship command in Brownsville, Texas (125-footer Boutwell) and his last ship command in Cheboygan, Michigan (the icebreaker Mackinaw -- he completed the first winter run when they kept ore boats in operation instead of stopping till spring). His first command ever was building a Loran C station at Cape Christian, Baffin Island, so i consulted him about station operations to see if it provided any insight to the station on Niku (with regard to whether they had workshop facilities, most recently, when that came up in a thread). He loved the Arctic and made several trips there. Some of my earliest memories of him are of when he was the sailing coach at the Academy in 1957-59, when they nearly won the Bermuda race with his favorite boat, Manitou. He was a champion racing sailor and could have captained a square-rigger.  His ship handling was unsurpassed. He also had a private pilot's license for a time and his favorite airplane was the Fairchild 24. He could make or fix anything. He was an excellent cook, as are all three of his sons (we had his example). His last assignments were as Chief of Search and Rescue and Chief of Operations at USCG HQ. After retirement he was hired back to revive the Academy sailing program. Then he took on running ISSA, the organization that promotes high school sailing. He had a particular interest in making sailing available to kids for whom that wasn't a normal family activity. His own life had been shaped by learning to sail when he had a job as a summer camp counselor.

His parents  were expats living in Paris between the wars, where he was born in 1927 (arriving shortly after Lindbergh). When WWII began they returned to the USA and lived in New York. My mother says that when she met him about ten years later he still had a trace of a French accent. For him, learning to sail led to the Coast Guard Academy and meeting my mother, who was at Connecticut College, across the street, and thus to my very existence. He taught me to sail when I was eight years old.

This is more answer than perhaps you wanted -- and I could go on.

LTM,
Don
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Diego Vásquez

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Re: China rebuilding Kanton Island airstrip
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2022, 11:57:25 PM »

Don - Sorry for your loss.  Thank you for the nice recap about your father's service.  Always nice to hear another story about the greatest generation. 

Diego
I want to believe.

Diego V.
 
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