US Reopens Historic WWII Airstrip Amid Rising Pacific Tensions

After eight decades of dormancy, the US Marines have restored a historic World War II airstrip on Peleliu, a small island that is part of the Pacific nation Palau. This strategic move, completed after months of repairs by US naval engineers, saw the landing of a KC-130J long-range tanker aircraft on June 22. The move comes amid escalating tensions between China on one side, and Taiwan and the US on the other. The Peleliu airstrip is one of several bases the Americans are eyeing or have already prepared in the context of growing tensions in the South China Sea and the Western Pacific.

The dirt airstrip on Peleliu, 2,500 kilometres from the Chinese coast, played a pivotal role in World War II, when China was a US ally and Japan the adversary. Now, the modest airfield, immortalised in several books, documentaries, and the 2010 HBO mini-series "The Pacific," finds itself at the centre of a modern arms race between Washington and Beijing.

Palau, an island nation, is one of the few countries in the Pacific that recognises Taiwan, placing it at odds with China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province. Palau also maintains a close relationship with the USA,

The KC-130J aircraft is a critical logistical asset for the US Air Force, capable of refuelling fighter jets and helicopters over a range exceeding 6,000 kilometres. This capability underscores the importance of Peleliu as a refuelling and logistical hub in the Pacific theatre.

Dr. Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy, an assistant professor at National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan and former political adviser to the European Union, elaborates on Palau’s strategic position:

Read more on The Observers - France 24

Read also:
'Old Witch', 'Pelosi get out of Taiwan!': Public billboards hacked on US Speaker's visit
No, this video does not show a Chinese military threat to Taiwan ahead of Pelosi’s visit