Thu, Feb 18, 2016 - Page 1 News List

China deploying missiles in Paracels

AGGRESSIVE TACTIC:IASC fellow Richard Fisher said the deployment on Woody Island was a major military escalation and that Beijing would likely do the same on other reefs

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON, with CNA

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday night, summit attendees reaffirmed the key principals that would guide them in future, including mutual respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality and political independence of all nations; shared commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes without resorting to the threat or use of force; and a shared commitment to promote cooperation on challenges in the maritime domain.

The missile deployment also comes as Washington appears increasingly anxious that China might soon start flying war planes from the man-made islands it has built in the South China Sea. Such a move would increase the military threat against Taiwan and could trigger a new reaction from the US.

Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said earlier this week that such flights would be “destabilizing.”

Aucoin would not say when he expected the flights to start, but other sources said they could happen before June.

Briefing journalists in Singapore, Aucoin said the US would continue to “sail, fly, operate throughout these waters like we have been doing for so long.”

Last month China landed two commercial jets on Fiery Cross, one of the reefs that China has built-up in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島).

“It demonstrates this new base has at least a rudimentary capability to support brief visits by People’s Liberation Army [PLA] fighters, bombers, radar, anti-submarine and other military aircraft,” Fisher said.

China had enough transport aircraft to carry the radar and control systems, fuel, maintenance supplies plus ordinance to enable a small number of fighter or surveillance aircraft to perform combat air patrol missions from Fiery Cross, he said

“China will use US, Australian and Japanese intention to use aircraft and ships to demonstrate freedom of navigation rights to justify a more rapid buildup of combat capabilities on its three large bases at Fiery Cross, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef,” he said.

The PLA’s S-300PMU2 surface-to-air missile system could shoot down aircraft over most of the southern part of the South China Sea from the PLA’s three new bases in the region and shoot down aircraft flying over the Philippine island of Palawan from Mischief Reef.

“China is on a roll. It simply is not going to respond to diplomatic attempts to stop its accelerating transformation of its islands into military bases, which it will eventually use to attack Taiwan, Philippine and Vietnamese islands in the South China Sea," Fisher said.

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