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China bolstering presence in South China Sea — US think tank

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
China bolstering presence in South China Sea â US think tank
“This feature will illustrate how these three capabilities are fundamentally linked, and how China’s aircraft carriers can take advantage of them to comfortably conduct operations at greater distances,” the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said Wednesday.
AFP

MANILA, Philippines — China’s deployment of radar, anti-ship and anti-air missile platforms, and combat aircraft to outposts in the South China Sea has greatly expanded its ability to project power in waters far from its coast, according to a US think tank.

“This feature will illustrate how these three capabilities are fundamentally linked, and how China’s aircraft carriers can take advantage of them to comfortably conduct operations at greater distances,” the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said Wednesday.

China operates four large outposts with 10,000-foot runways in disputed areas of the South China Sea: Woody Island, Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef.

The AMTI, part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said China has deployed substantial military assets to these islands, including HQ-9 anti-air and YJ-12B anti-ship missiles, sensing and communications facilities, and hangars capable of housing military transport, patrol and combat aircraft.

“The operational range of Chinese fighter aircraft such as the J-15 from these islands is, in theory, quite far,” the AMTI said. “But, in reality, combat aircraft can only effectively operate within the range of available radar and sensing platforms. Without external radar coverage, they have limited awareness of their surroundings.”

The United States rejected China’s new action requiring ships to report innocent passage in the South China Sea that “seems to run directly counter to international agerements and norms” and could trigger “potential conflicts.”

Washington slammed Beijing’s actions aimed at misrepresenting lawful US maritime operations and “assert its excessive and illegitimate maritime claims at the expense of its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea.”

The US reiterated it is in the region to support key partners that are growing increasingly concerned over China’s aggressive and coercive actions, and US partners’ concerns with their lack of capability or capacity to adequately respond to those actions.

SOUTH CHINA SEA
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