In a move that will further unnerve their wary neighbours, China has reportedly built new military bases on islands in the South China Sea.
As reported by Reuters, “The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, said new satellite images show missile shelters and radar and communications facilities being built on the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs in the Spratly Islands.”
The U.S. regularly criticizes the Chinese military build-up in the area, and are concerned the key trade route could be become restricted.
The Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam all have claims in the region.
According to the report, China has built “missile shelters and radar and communications facilities on the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs.” They are all part of the Spratly Islands.
It is now believed that China can “deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time.”
While China is still behind the United States when it comes to projecting power around the globe, they are increasingly focused on area access-denial. They have invested heavily in advanced anti-ship missiles that could destroy U.S. aircraft carriers. The idea is to build a force capable of denying the U.S. and other countries access to the South China Sea, or ensuring that any access takes place on China’s terms.
China’s escalating militarization of the South China Sea (which they officially deny), is a sign of the further expansion of their military ambitions. It’s an important reminder that China’s so-called “peaceful rise” may be anything but.