China's man-made S.China Sea islands nearly complete

Chinese warplane deployment in South China Sea imminent: US think tank

Chinese warplane deployment in South China Sea imminent: US think tank

China has nearly completed the construction of military and dual-use objects on the disputed islands in the South China Sea, according to the report of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in the USA (CSIS) titled "Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative".

This aerial photo taken on January 2, 2017 shows a Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning (C), during military drills in the South China Sea.

Each of the islands has new aircraft hangers, capable of holding 24 military aircraft, as well as several larger hangars that can hold bombers or surveillance planes, said the report.

China has denied U.S. charges that it is militarising the South China Sea, although last week Premier Li Keqiang said defense equipment had been placed on islands in the disputed waterway to maintain "freedom of navigation".

China has also constructed significant radar and sensor arrays on all three islands, positioning them close to point defense structures to provide protection against air or missile strikes.

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These features appear on the Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, all part of the Spratly chain - which the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei lay partial or complete claim to also.

Like it or not, China is going ahead to militarize all the strategic islands in South China Sea to protect its interest, the same way the US has militarized its bases around the globe as the world's sheriff.

"This is a new proposal, a bilateral consultation mechanism specifically on the South China Sea", foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

In the same speech, however, he also emphasized the Philippines' stronger friendship with China to prove his foreign policy does not "dovetail" with that of the US.

In February, it warned that Woody Island, the largest of the Paracel Islands, was home to "an airstrip, hangars, and a deployment of HQ-9 surface-to-air missile batteries", as well as the beginnings of seven new harbors. China announced, and last week denied, plans to build on the highly strategic Scarborough Shoal near Manila and Subic Bay.

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Duterte spoke in a visit to Oriental Mindoro province a day after concerns were raised over a report by a US think tank that China has almost completed construction work on three man-made islands that will allow it to deploy combat aircraft and surface-to-air missiles.

China has destroyed almost 48 square miles in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea with its illegal island building.

"Even if there is a certain amount of defence equipment or facilities, it is for maintaining the freedom of navigation", he said.

Duterte, however, said he will invoke an global arbitration ruling that declared China has no historic title to the disputed waters if Beijing drills for oil or gas in a contested shoal.

The think tank's analysis of satellite images offers some of the most conclusive evidence that, contrary to Beijing's assertions, China has continued to militarize the waters as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway, through which $5 trillion in trade passes each year.

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