Wednesday, January 17, 2018

South China Sea disputes: China arms island outposts

"China has apparently finished expanding its manmade island outposts in the South China Sea and has moved on to building military infractures on some of the larger islands, according to the Pentagon's annual assessment of military and security development of China.

The report states that China is currently focused on outfitting its three largest outposts — Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands — with military infrastructures, including airfields with runways measuring at least 8,800 feet, water and fuel storage, port facilities, 24 fighter-sized hangars, communications facilities and barracks and administration buildings.

Once the facilities are complete, China can house up to three regiments of fighter jets in the Spratly Islands.

According to Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, the three air bases and another on Woody Island in the Paracels will give Chinese fighter jets the ability to operate over almost the entire South China Sea, as well as the radar surveillance coverage of almost the entire region from its facilities on the large and smaller outposts.

Parts of the South China Sea is claimed by China, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The Hague international tribunal rejected China’s claims of historical ownership in the in the South China Sea last July. China, in response, has firmly rejected the ruling."