Islands on South China Sea Can House Missiles: US
Washington: China, in an early test of US President Donald Trump, has nearly finished building almost two dozen structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea that appear designed to house long-range surface-toair missiles, two US officials told Reuters.
The development is likely to raise questions about whether and how the United States will respond, given its vows to take a tough line on China in the South China Sea. China claims almost all the waters, which carry a third of the world’s maritime traffic. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims. T r u mp’s ad mi n i s t r at ion h a s called China’s island building in the South China Sea illegal.
Building the concrete structures with retractable roofs on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, part of the Spratly Islands chain where China already has built militarylength airstrips, could be considered a military escalation, the US officials said in recent days, speak- ing on condition of anonymity.
“It is not like the Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it, and these structures resemble others that house SAM batteries, so the logical conclusion is that’s what they are for,” said a US intelligence official, referring to surface-to-air missiles.
Another official said the structures appeared to be 20 66 feet long and 10 33 feet high. A Pentagon spokesman said the United States remained committed to “non-militarisation in the South China Sea” and urged all claimants to take actions consistent with international law.