US 'concerned over militarisation' of South China Sea

Marsha Scott
May 6, 2018

"We are concerned with the reported China's missile deployments over the contested areas in the West Philippine Sea", Roque said.

The threat comes as the two nations continue talks to resolve a major trade dispute, and follows a formal complaint to Beijing over lasers blinding United States pilots in the Horn of Africa, according to an Euronews report.

If these missile systems remain on China's Spratlys bases, no amount of diplomatic rhetoric will placate other South China Sea countries and extra-regional powers like the United States, Japan, and Australia.

"We've raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this and there will be near-term and long-term consequences", Sanders said. She said the Chinese must understand that "they can not, and should not, be hostile, and understand that the Pacific is - is a place in which much commerce goes through".

CNBC quoted unnamed sources as saying that according to USA intelligence assessments, the missiles were moved to the Spratlys within the past 30 days to Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and also Mischief Reef, which is 216 km (135 miles) from the Philippines, well within Manila's Exclusive Economic Zone.

"The AFP can not deny the fact that the deployment of Chinese cruise missiles capable of hitting Palawan island is the single biggest threat to national security in recent decades", said De Lima.

The US Defence Department, which opposes China's installation of military facilities on outposts it has built up in the South China Sea, declined comment.

"It is time for the strategic thinkers in the AFP to step up and warn the President that the continuation of his mendicant policy towards China represents the inevitability of a perpetual threat to national existence", she said. That range means they can be used for defense by engaging ships and aircraft that are attacking the Spratlys, but also that they can also project control of the sea and airspace around them against ships and aircraft merely traversing the skies around them.

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China has made no mention of any missile deployments but says its military facilities in the Spratlys are purely defensive. Given the non-confrontational nature of those presence operations, however, China is more likely using them as pretext for buildups they intended anyway.

Previously, China had announced in 2016 that it had already deployed similar weapons to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, on the northwestern edge of the South China Sea.

"Those who do not intend to be aggressive have no need to be anxious or scared", ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

It said that the YJ-12B anti-ship missiles would be able to strike ships up to 295 nautical miles away from the artificial islands.

Adding, "The relevant deployment targets no one".

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said USA intelligence had seen some signs that China had moved some weapons systems to its artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago in the past month or so, but offered no details.

China previously deployed short-range missiles and point-defense systems like anti-aircraft guns and close-in-weapons-systems to the islands, created to defeat incoming missiles.

She said, "This is exactly what we have expected the Chinese to do. I just think that (Beijing) believes everybody, including the claimants, understands this is inevitable".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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