US Navy Unhappy but Helpless at Warships Being Surrounded by China

In its article “South China Sea tensions hit crisis point as furious Beijing surrounds US vessel in region” on October 21, UK media Express believes China’s move in surrounding US warship in the South China Sea hits crisis point, hinting that it may trigger a war between the US and China there.

However, I have pointed in my posts that with three airstrips in China’s artificial islands armed for defense and air dominance by China’s J-20 stealth fighters better than US F-35s, South China Sea has been turned into China’s Lake. The US has no hope in winning a war there.

The article quotes China military specialist and Georgetown University professor Oriana Skylar Mastro as saying, “If we’re in a strategic competition, this is the most important area where we ensure we maintain a military advantage.”

The US has been carrying out a strategic competition with China as it has fallen deep in Thucydides trap, but it simply has no military advantages in the South China Sea. It cannot send F-22s to attack China as F-22s need refuelings to reach China and are vulnerable during the refueling operations. Moreover, US airfields are within the range of China’s intermediate ballistic missiles. F-22s may have nowhere to land when they return after their operations as their airfields will be damaged by Chinese missiles.

US aircraft carriers cannot go near China as they may be attacked by China’s DF-21D, DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missiles and lots of anti-ship cruise missiles. Even if they can their F-35s are not match for China’s J-20s.

US submarines cannot attack China with their cruise missiles from the South China Sea as they will reveal their locations if they have attacked China and be sunk by Chinese planes and helicopters from China’s artificial islands.

That is why “The Trump administration doesn’t seem to care about the South China Sea – he’s never tweeted about it, he hasn’t brought it up with Xi.”

Trump knows better US military’s weakness there. He is simply not so stupid as to mention the issue to show US weakness.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Express’ article, full text of which can be viewed at

China’s Foothold in the Pacific by Leasing a Solomon Island

Express says in its article “South China Sea: Beijing’s secret Solomon Islands deal sparks fears of military action” that China’s lease of a Solomon island is a move related to its disputes in the South China Sea. Therefore, it says that the island leased to China “potentially provides a key foothold in the disputes over the region.”

China has built three airstrips on its artificial islands, each of which can accommodate 200 warplanes. That is quite enough to deal with the warplanes from US aircraft carriers while all US airbases near China are within the range of at least a thousand Chines intermediate ballistic missiles. Therefore, China simply does not need an island away from the South China Sea for defending its rights and interests in the South China Sea. I have repeatedly pointed out in my posts that with the construction of artificial islands and deployment of China’s J-20 stealth fighters for air superiority, the South China Sea is now a Chinese lake.

There has been no public information about China’s lease of a Solomon island. If there has indeed been such a lease and need to be kept secret, the island certainly can be used as a military base for China to have a foothold in the Pacific. That will be something great as China need such a foothold to protect its trade lifelines through the Pacific.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Express’s article, full text of which can be viewed at

China Adds Advanced Missiles to South China Sea Islands

Pentagon plans major response to Chinese hegemony

BY: Bill Gertz
June 14, 2018 5:00 am

China’s military has stepped up militarizing disputed islands in the South China Sea by deploying advanced missile systems on the Spratly islands, according to the Pentagon.

Defense officials disclosed to the Washington Free Beacon that the militarization has raised alarm bells about China’s creeping takeover of the strategic waterway used for some $5 trillion annually in international trade.

The officials previewed Defense Department concerns detailed in the forthcoming China military power report. The annual report to Congress is expected to be made public in the near future.

“China is continuing its gradual deployment of military equipment to its Spratly Islands outposts in the disputed South China Sea,” said one senior official.

“These deployments involve the delivery of military jamming equipment as well as advanced anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems to the outposts.”

The most worrisome weapons are missiles.

“The missile systems are the most capable land-based weapons systems deployed by China in the South China Sea,” the official said.

The missiles have been identified as YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles that give the Chinese military the ability to hit ships within 340 miles—enough to target U.S. warships that frequently transit the waters in conducting freedom of navigation operations.

The Pentagon has stepped up Navy warship passages near the disputed islands as part of a policy of asserting international freedom of navigation.

During the most recent operation May 27, two Navy missile ships, the cruiser USS Antietam, and the destroyer USS Higgins, Chinese navy vessels unsuccessfully attempted for force the ships out of the area.

Missile emplacements were first identified several years ago on the Spratlys by the Defense Intelligence Agency. At the time, the missiles assessed as very short-range coastal anti-ship missiles with ranges of a few miles.

The DIA, however, reported internally that the missile emplacements were built on the same infrastructure as could be used for longer-range anti-ship missiles, an indication China eventually planned to swap out the short-range systems and replace them with the more lethal weapons.

That appears to have happened with the recent deployment of the YJ-12Bs.

The air defense missiles were identified by the Pentagon as either HQ-9A or HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missiles with ranges of up to 184 miles.

The HQ-9s are capable of shooting down aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missiles.

U.S. military forces recently flew two pairs of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers near the contested South China Sea in a show of force.

Two B-52s were dispatched from the Navy support base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and flew close to the South China Sea on June 5.

Two days earlier, another set of B-52s, this time from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flew to the Indian Ocean but did not pass over the sea.

On Wednesday, another two B-52s flew from Guam to the East China Sea, passing close to Japan’s Senkaku Islands north of Taiwan. China is claiming the uninhabited Senkakus as its territory.

The defense official said the missiles remain in place on the Spratlys.

Fox News reported recently that China appeared to remove air defense missiles from Woody Island, part of another set of disputed islands, the Paracels, in the northern part of the sea.

The South China Morning Post, however, reported this week that the missiles were back.

China is claiming 90 percent of the South China Sea based on vague historical map claims. The islands are claimed by several other nations, including Philippines and Vietnam.

The international Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines and against China’s expansive claims to own most of the South China Sea in July 2016. China has refused to observe the court’s ruling and continues to claim sovereignty of the sea.

China is building up military bases on a trio of Spratly islands located close to the Philippines, a U.S. ally in the region.

Fox News reported, based on satellite images May 9, that two batteries of HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles appeared from photographs to have been removed from Woody Island.

The senior official said the Pentagon is preparing to respond to Chinese military assertiveness in the South China Sea and elsewhere with a series of actions, the official said.

In addition to the missile emplacements, China angered the Pentagon by firing lasers at U.S. military cargo aircraft flying near the Chinese military base on the Horn of Africa at Djibouti.

The laser illumination injured the eyes of air crew members on two flights.

China also has been linked to cyber attacks, most recently a cyber intrusion against a Navy contractor engaged in cutting edge weapons research, including a new submarine-launched cruise missile.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis first outlined the Pentagon’s concerns about Chinese militarization of the islands during a June 2 speech at a defense conference in Singapore.

“China’s militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers, and more recently, the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island,” Mattis said.

“Despite China’s claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion,” he stated.

To press the issue, Mattis noted that the militarization directly contradicted promises made by current Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping in 2015 that China had no plans to militarize the islands.

In response to the weapons deployments, Mattis said the initial response was to disinvite the People’s Liberation Army Navy from the upcoming Rim of the Pacific international naval exercises involving forces from more than 40 militaries.

“China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principals and the purposes of the RIMPAC exercise, the world’s largest Naval exercise, an exercise in which transparency and cooperation are hallmarks,” Mattis said.

Mattis announced in Singapore he plans to travel to Beijing soon as part of efforts to expand the dialogue with China.

The new Pacific Command chief, Adm. Philip Davidson, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a written statement in April that the electronic weapons deployed on the disputed Spratlys include a variety of radar and electronic attack capabilities on Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef, Hughes Reef, Johnson Reef, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef.

“These facilities significantly expand the real-time domain awareness, [intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance], and jamming capabilities of the PLA over a large portion of the South China Sea, presenting a substantial challenge to U.S. military operations in this region,” Davidson told the Senate Armed Services Committee in written answers to questions.

The Chinese military bases on the seven islands include hangars, barracks, underground fuel and water storage facilities, and bunkers for “offense and defensive kinetic and non-kinetic systems,” he said.

With the weapons systems on the islands, Davidson issued this stark warning: “The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Rick Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the missiles in the Spratlys could have been stored on Woody Island and moved south

“To deter China in the South China Sea it is necessary for the U.S. to base long range offensive ballistic and cruise missiles in that region,” Fisher said.

“If they cannot be based in the Philippines, we need to have them on ships, or quickly develop our own intermediate-range ballistic missiles to base on Guam.”

Fisher said Chinese Communist Party leaders “must be made to understand that any use of weapons from its South China Sea islands will result in the immediate destruction of its illegal island bases.”

Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell said if the missile deployments on the Spratlys are confirmed it would represent a significant increase in the military threat to the region.

“The PRC’s ultimate objective is to drive the U.S. military out of Asia and replace it with a PLA that is able to force the restoration of what Beijing believes is their sovereign territory—the entirety of the Nine Dash Line in the South China Sea,” Fanell said.

The failure of the Obama administration to confront China has limited U.S. options, Fanell said.

“However, the use of force should not be discounted,” he said. “As we’ve seen with this administration’s use of ‘maximum pressure’ against North Korea, the same approach can yield results against the Chinese Communist Party.”

Source: Washington Free Beacon “China Adds Advanced Missiles to South China Sea Islands”

Note: This is Washington Free Beacon’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views

China rejects ‘ridiculous’ U.S. accusation of South China Sea militarization

Reuters Staff May 31, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. assertions that China is militarizing the South China Sea are “ridiculous”, China said on Thursday, after U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Washington would confront China’s actions in the disputed waterways.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the “Defense Department budget posture in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2019 and the Future Years Defense Program” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Mattis said on Tuesday the United States would push back against what it sees as China’s militarization of islands in the South China Sea despite China’s condemnation of a voyage through the region on the weekend by two U.S. Navy ships.

“The United States military presence in the South China Sea is greater than that of China and other countries that surround the seas combined,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing.

Hua also questioned whether U.S. Navy “freedom of navigation” operations were really about preserving the right for ships to sail through the region or an attempt to maintain hegemony.

“This sounds like a case of a thief crying ‘stop thief’ to cover their misdeeds,” she said.

Speaking at a separate briefing, defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said they had noted that the United States had recently been “turning a blind eye to the facts and hyping up” the militarization of the South China Sea.

No country has the right to “make irresponsible remarks” about China’s building of necessary defense facilities on its own territory, Ren said.

However, he said the United Sides had formally proposed Mattis visit China, and both countries were coordinating on details. He did not provide a date for a possible trip.

The Global Times, a state-backed Chinese tabloid that does not reflect official policy, said in an editorial on Thursday that China must prepare to forcefully respond to any “extreme” U.S. interference in the South China Sea.

“Aside from deploying defensive weapons on the Spratly Islands, China should build a powerful deterrence system, including an aerial base and a roving naval force and base,” the paper said.

Reuters first reported that two U.S. Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, prompting anger in Beijing, which claims most of the strategic waters where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.

While the Sunday operation had been planned months in advance, and similar operations have become routine, it comes at a sensitive time and days after the Pentagon withdrew an invitation to China to attend a major U.S.-hosted naval drill.
Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and using South China Sea islands to gather intelligence.

Recent satellite photographs showed China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody Island.

This month, China’s air force landed bombers on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise.[L3N1SR08Q]

Mattis is expected to have strong words for China at a Shangri-la dialogue conference in Singapore beginning on Friday.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Editing by Darren Schuettler, Robert Birsel

Source: Reuters “China rejects ‘ridiculous’ U.S. accusation of South China Sea militarization”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

The West Has Already Lost to China Battle for Control over SCS

The Australian says in its report titled “South China Sea battle already lost: Jim Molan” that Australian retired major general Jim Molan, a senator now, said that the West has failed to stop China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea (SCS) in time. Now, China has not only completed construction of but has also fortified and militarized the islands to obtain firm control of SCS so that China cannot be dislodged without a full-out war, which he knows will not be fought now.

Molan is of the same view as mine that China has full control of SCS now and US freedom of navigation operations (FONO’s) are useless. The Australian quotes Molan as saying that he was not convinced so-called FONO’s, in which warships sailed within 12 nautical miles of disputed territory as a means of making a point, were either “tactically or strategically significant’’.

On the other hand, China’s PLA Daily says in its report “First joint military, police and civilian patrol of Xisha Islands and Reefs drove away 10 foreign fishing boats” on May 20 that China has begun to conduct join naval, coast guards and civilian patrol of SCS and driven 10 foreign fishing boats away in their first patrol.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on The Australian’s and PLA Daily’s reports which can respectively be viewed at and (the latter is in Chinese).

US Intensifies Naval Challenge by Sailing 2 Warships into Chinese Waters

Reuters says in its report, “Exclusive: U.S. warships sail near South China Sea islands claimed by Beijing” that two warships sailed into Chinese territorial waters around China’s Xisha (also known as Paracel) Islands.

The report was confirmed by China’s official protest on US naval move.

When China has landed bombers on its islands, Pentagon said there would be consequence. True enough it soon uninvited China from a major U.S.-hosted naval drill and intensified its freedom of navigation into Chinese territorial waters by sending two warships instead one in all the previous US freedom of navigation operations to challenge China .

There will be consequences too. China will intensify its militarization of its artificial islands with US help as US move gives China the excuse to do so for “defense”.

The US is satisfied with the move as it shows its naval presence in the South China Sea while China though protested, is pleased to have the excuse it needs to militarize its artificial islands to turn the sea into its lake.

There seems to be tension there, but we can rest at ease there will be no war especially when China has militarized the artificial islands to obtain superior geographical advantages in the sea. Otherwise, why shall China have incurred billions of dollars costs in building the islands in the first place? I shall say there is wonderful cooperation between the US and China in the South China Sea whether there is intention of such cooperation is another question quite irrelevant?

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at

China installs cruise missiles on South China Sea outposts: CNBC report

Reuters Staff May 3, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of its outposts in the South China Sea, U.S. news network CNBC reported on Wednesday, citing sources with direct knowledge of U.S. intelligence reports.

The move, if confirmed, would mark the first Chinese missile deployments in the Spratly Islands, where several Asian countries including Vietnam and Taiwan have rival claims.

Chinese officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

CNBC quoted unnamed sources as saying that according to U.S. intelligence assessments, the missiles were moved to Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef within the past 30 days.

The U.S. Defense Department, which opposes China’s installation of military facilities on outposts it has built up in the South China Sea, declined comment. “We don’t comment on matters of intelligence,” a spokesman said.

China has made no mention of any missile deployments but says its military facilities in the Spratlys are purely defensive.

Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said deploying missiles on the outposts would be important.

“These would be the first missiles in the Spratlys, either surface to air, or anti-ship,” he said. He added that such deployments were expected as China built missile shelters on the reefs last year and already deployed such missile systems on Woody Island further to the north.

Poling said it would be a major step on China’s road to dominating the South China Sea, a key global trade route.

“Before this, if you were one of the other claimants … you knew that China was monitoring your every move. Now you will know that you’re operating inside Chinese missile range. That’s a pretty strong, if implicit, threat.”

CNBC said the YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles allowed China to strike vessels within 295 nautical miles. It said the HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missiles could target aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles.

Last month, U.S. Admiral Philip Davidson, nominated to head U.S. Pacific Command, said China’s “forward operating bases” in the South China Sea appeared complete.

“The only thing lacking are the deployed forces,” he said. Once these were added, “China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania.”

Davidson said China could use the bases to challenge the U.S. regional presence, and “would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants.

“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” he said.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Source: Reuters “China installs cruise missiles on South China Sea outposts: CNBC report”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.