Friday, May 4, 2018

China reportedly deploys cruise missiles to Spratly Islands

China reportedly deploys cruise missiles to Spratly Islands

A composite image of Fiery Cross Reef from 2016. Picture: DigitalGlobe/Getty Images.
A composite image of Fiery Cross Reef from 2016. Picture: DigitalGlobe/Getty Images.
China is believed to have deployed missiles on a series of disputed artificial islands in the South China Sea.
The move follows warnings from the US military that Beijing is poised to extend its influence thousands of miles beyond its shores.
US intelligence officials told the CNBC news channel that Beijing had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
China’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a foreign ministry spokeswoman said: “Those who do not intend to be aggressive have no need to be worried or scared.” She added that China “hopes relevant parties can objectively and calmly view this”.
The Americans believe that the missiles were deployed in the past month. The installations, if confirmed, would mark the first Chinese missile deployments in the Spratly Islands.
Foreing Minister Bishop said the Australian government would be concerned if the media reports were accurate, because the deployment of missiles would be contrary to China’s stated aspiration that it would not militarise the islands.
“China, of course, has a unique responsibility as a permanent member of the (Unite Nations) Security Council, to uphold peace and security around the world,” Ms Bishop said.
“Any action to militarise unilaterally features in the South China Sea would go against that responsibility and that role.”
Beijing has transformed dozens of atolls and reefs into fortified artificial islands, ignoring protests from neighbouring nations. The land-based anti-ship cruise missiles could strike vessels within 340 nautical miles (630km) of the reefs, while the surface-to-air missiles can hit aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 180 miles.
A Pentagon official told CNBC: “We have consistently called on China, as well as other claimants, to refrain from further land reclamation, construction of new facilities and militarisation of disputed features. The further militarisation of outposts will only serve to raise tensions and create greater distrust among claimants.”
Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said: “Before this, if you were one of the other claimants you knew that China was monitoring your every move. Now you will know that you’re operating inside Chinese missile range. That’s a pretty strong, if implicit, threat.”
The US military said last month that China’s “forward operating bases” in the South China Sea appeared to have been completed. “The only thing lacking are the deployed forces,” Admiral Philip Davidson said. “China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania.
“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”