Is­lands on South China Sea Can House Mis­siles: US

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

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.

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