China has recently deployed advanced missile systems to military bases on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, an area that is disputed territory among the surrounding nations.
According to information disclosed by defense officials to The Washington Free Beacon, “the militarization has raised alarm bells about China’s creeping takeover of the strategic waterway used for some $5 trillion annually in international trade.”
“China is continuing its gradual deployment of military equipment to its Spratly Islands outposts in the disputed South China Sea,” a senior official told the Free Beacon.
“These deployments involve the delivery of military jamming equipment as well as advanced anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems to the outposts,” he continued. “The missile systems are the most capable land-based weapons systems deployed by China in the South China Sea.”
Back in February, Admiral Harry Harris, former U.S. Pacific Command Chief, spoke to Congress and warned them that with China’s recent military buildup, the communist nation “could soon challenge the U.S. across almost every domain.”
“China’s ongoing military buildup, advancement, and modernization are core elements of their strategy to supplant the U.S. as the security partner of choice for countries in the Indo-Pacific, but China also holds clear global ambitions,” Harris continued.
To further prove his point, Harris quoted the current Chinese president himself: “At the 19th Party Congress, President Xi stated he wanted China to develop a ‘world class’ military and become a ‘global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence.’ Ladies and gentlemen, China’s intent is crystal clear. We ignore it at our peril.”
Admiral Philip Davidson, the new U.S. Pacific Command Chief, echoed Harris’ warning in a written testimony to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, arguing that China’s military bases in the South China Sea are complete, apart from missing “deployed forces.”
“Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania,” Davidson wrote.
“In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”
The anti-ship cruise missiles that China has placed on the Spratly Islands have been identified as missiles capable of hitting ships within 340 miles, according to the Free Beacon.
This distance reaches far enough to target U.S. warships crossing through the area on freedom of navigation operations, making China’s militarization of these islands all the more important to watch.
“To deter China in the South China Sea it is necessary for the U.S. to base long range offensive ballistic and cruise missiles in that region,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
“If they cannot be based in the Philippines, we need to have them on ships, or quickly develop our own intermediate-range ballistic missiles to base on Guam,” Fisher continued.
According to Fisher, China–more specifically, its Communist Party leaders–“must be made to understand that any use of weapons from its South China Sea islands will result in the immediate destruction of its illegal island bases.”
The Defense Department will soon be making an annual report to Congress and will include concerns regarding China’s current military power, a threat on the horizon that can no longer be ignored.
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