You would think that China has enough territory for it not to create artificial islands in the disputed territory of the South China Sea and claim this is part of China. The areas include: the Spratly Island chain close to the Philippines, the Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef, and the Subi Reef.
We believe that the construction of these islands is probably part of its first line of defense in case there is ever a war with another power coming from the sea…such as the US.
We have written for years that China’s long-term goal is to remove the US from the influence sphere of Asia. This is apparently part of that strategy. It will demonstrate to the other countries who depend on the US for protection that they can’t count on the Yankees when things get tough.
This will be an enormous challenge to the negotiation skills of the new US President next year. China won’t dismantle them, to be sure. China has said these islands are for “peaceful” purposes without defining that term. China’s neighbors are contesting the territorial claims but are too puny to challenge China.
Here is an excerpt of an interesting article, with photos, from the Wall Street Journal.
China’s island-building over the last three years has raised fears in the U.S. and among its Asian allies and partners that Beijing plans to use its expanding military power to enforce its territorial claims and take control of one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.
AMTI, run by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that since June and July it had tracked construction of hexagonal structures on three artificial islands—Fiery Cross, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef—where China has built airstrips large enough to accommodate military aircraft.
Those hexagonal structures are nearly identical to defensive fortifications built earlier at four smaller artificial islands, which appear to include antiaircraft guns and probably close-in weapons systems, or CIWS, designed to track and shoot down cruise missiles, AMTI said.
“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea,” AMTI said.
“Among other things, they would be the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases.”
China’s Defense Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
China says it has “indisputable sovereignty” over all South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters but its claims overlap with those of Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines—a U.S. treaty ally.
Beijing has said that the islands are mostly for civilian uses—such as weather monitoring and search-and-rescue—but will also serve defensive purposes. It landed a military aircraft on one in April.
The president-elect will have his hands full. There is so much deferred diplomacy and repairs of relationships to be done. This is more important than the repairs to our infrastructure. He is assembling an impressive team. And that’s exactly what it takes: a team of the best and most experienced people.