Senate probe into Chinese missiles in South China Sea sought
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV wants the Senate to investigate into reports that China has installed missiles on three of its artificial outposts in the South China Sea.
Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
Senate probe into Chinese missiles in South China Sea sought
Audrey Morallo ( - May 7, 2018 - 6:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — A former Navy officer in the Senate is calling for a probe into China's reported installation of missiles on three of its artificial outposts in the South China Sea, which are within the zone claimed by the Philippines.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday filed a resolution urging the Senate panel on national defense and security to conduct a legislative inquiry on China's installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its artificially-built islands.

In filing Senate Resolution 722, Trillanes said that conducting an inquiry on the issue is important to assert the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity and to ensure that Beijing's militarization of the features does not pose any threat to the country's defense and security.

READ: Hontiveros: Government's response to Chinese missiles 'insult' to Filipino soldiers

China installed its missiles and missile system on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, according to CNBC, citing unnamed American sources.

The installations marked the first Chinese missile deployments in the disputed region, through which around $3 trillion worth of trade passes annually.

The report also said that the missile systems were moved to the three artificially-constructed islands within the past 30 days.

Based on the report, the missiles, called YJ-12B, can strike surface vessels within 295 nautical miles of the reefs while the surface-to-air systems, called HQ-9B, can shoot drones, aircraft and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles.

READ: Duterte defends China amid missile deployment report

"The aforementioned military weapons were allegedly previously seen in Woody Island, China's military headquarters, through satellite images," the opposition senator, a thorn in the side of President Rodrigo Duterte, said in his resolution.

Trillanes also cited Beijing's extensive reclamation activities in the disputed region, saying that these constructions included airstrips which were recently used when China deployed advanced fighter jets to the South China Sea.

In a video released by the People's Liberation Army Air Force, according to Trillanes, a Russia-built Su-35s was seen flying over the disputed waters.

"[Thus] further stressing China's efforts on airspace control," he said.

READ: Philippines still verifying missiles in Spratlys amid China's confirmation

Another worrying development that Trillanes cited in his resolution is the installation of military jamming equipment in Kagitingan Reef and Mischief Reef, which could disrupt communication and radar systems.

He said that these weapons and facilities were a "clear policy" of militarization by China in the South China Sea.

He also stressed that economic ties to China were separate from the country's security and defense relationship with Beijing.

The Philippines under Duterte has tried to forge closer ties to Beijing in an effort to court Chinese money and investments to the country's economy.

"Thus, this alleged militarization of the West Philippine Sea is very alarming and it poses a big threat to the country's national defense and security," Trillanes said.

The opposition lawmaker also urged the government to assert the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the favorable United Nations-backed tribunal ruling by rallying regional partners such as as the United States, Japan, Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He also called on the government to hasten the implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US and to strengthen the implementation of existing laws such as the Archipelagic Baseline Law of the Philippines and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

READ: Palace 'concerned' over reef missiles

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