May 20, 2018

China says it has 'indisputable sovereignty' over South China Sea

04 May 2018, 10:41 | Rufus Hill

China 'secretly places' cruise missiles on islands in contested waters

CNBC: China Fortifies Artificial Islands With Missile Systems

The missiles have reportedly been deployed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands.

The Turnbull government is concerned by reports that China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its outposts in the South China Sea.

"We've raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this and there will be near-term and long-term consequences", she said, as quoted by Reuters.

China's installment of missile systems on the Spratly Islands comes amid another move by the country that is a cause for concern in the region.

Military experts called the missile deployments a "major escalation" in one of the most disputed territories in the world.

The Chinese army installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines over the last 30 days, United States network CNBC reported on Wednesday, citing sources close to USA intelligence.

"(It's) very important for us to be present and the recent ship visits that I mentioned are directly relevant to the situation we have in the South China Sea...

China's militarization has alarmed countries both in the region and around the world, prompting freedom of navigation operations by the US Navy to assert its right to travel in worldwide waters.

A Pentagon official speaking to USA media said that "The further militarization of outposts will only serve to raise tensions and create greater distrust among claimants", reports CNBC.

China could use the bases to challenge the US regional presence, and "would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants".

The US often sends warships near the islands to publicly challenge Chinese claims.

Adm. Philip Davidson, nominated to take charge of the US Pacific Command, told his confirmation hearing last month that China is already the master of the South China Sea.

Davidson said China could use the bases to challenge the US regional presence, and "would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants".

The admiral also pointed to the fact that China's current activity contradicts what Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a White House meeting with then-US President Barack Obama in 2015.

"While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other nonmilitary functions, electronic jamming equipment is only for military use", a U.S. Defense Department official told the Wall Street Journal.

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