China 'secretly places' cruise missiles on islands in contested waters

Blanche Robertson
May 4, 2018

CHINA has reportedly installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three reefs claimed by the Philippines in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

CNBC reports that the systems were installed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef.

China's installment of missile systems on the Spratly Islands comes amid another move by the country that is a cause for concern in the region.

The US Defence Department, which opposes China's installation of military facilities on outposts it has built up in the South China Sea, declined comment.

"The further militarization of outposts will only serve to raise tensions and create greater distrust among claimants", he continued.

United States network CNBC reported Wednesday that the Chinese military installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines over the last 30 days, citing sources close to U.S. intelligence.

A USA official said said that in a few instances, military grade lasers from the Chinese base had been pointed at aircraft.

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He added such deployments were expected as China built missile shelters on the reefs past year and already deployed such missile systems on Woody Island further to the north.

"We've raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this and there will be near-term and long-term consequences", she said, as quoted by Reuters.

Likewise, the Foreign Minister of Australia Julie Bishop noted that "if the media reports are accurate, then the Australian government would be concerned because this would be contrary to China's stated aspiration that it would not militarize these features", reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

In March, the military began their annual spring air force drills in the South China Sea, involving the use of powerful military aircraft such as H-6K bombers, Su-30, and Su-35 fighters.

She said any action to unilaterally militarise artificial islands in the South China Sea would go against that responsibility.

The US Navy itself frequently sends warships and aircraft carriers to patrol the area.

China's Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest report.

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