China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the South China Sea to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, according to a state-run newspaper, offering new details on China’s ongoing military build-up.
China has said military construction on the islands it controls in the South China Sea will be limited to necessary defensive requirements, and that it can do what it likes on its own territory.
The United States has criticized what it has called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.
The state-run Defense Times newspaper, in a Tuesday report on its WeChat account, said Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems with the capability to discover, identify and attack enemy combat divers had been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.
Fiery Cross Reef is administered by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
The report did not say when the defense system was installed, but said it was part of a response that began in May 2014, when Vietnamese divers installed large numbers of fishing nets in the Paracel Islands.
China has conducted extensive land reclamation work at Fiery Cross Reef, including building an airport, one of several Chinese-controlled features in the South China Sea where China has carried out such work.
More than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped through the South China Sea every year. Besides China’s territorial claims in the area, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
(Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Ben Blanchard)
Source: “China installs rocket launchers on disputed South China Sea island: 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.
By David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON Wed Dec 14, 2016 | 4:34pm EST
China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported on Wednesday, citing new satellite imagery.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.
AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military length airstrips on these islands.
“It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs,” it said citing images taken in November and made available to Reuters.
“This model has gone through another evolution at (the) much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs.”
Satellite images of Hughes and Gaven reefs showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems (CIWS) to protect against cruise missile strikes, it said.
Images from Fiery Cross Reef showed towers that likely contained targeting radar, it said.
AMTI said covers had been installed on the towers at Fiery Cross, but the size of platforms on these and the covers suggested they concealed defense systems similar to those at the smaller reefs.
“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,” it 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.”
AMTI director Greg Poling said AMTI had spent months trying to figure out what the purposes of the structures was.
“This is the first time that we’re confident in saying they are anti-aircraft and CIWS emplacements. We did not know that they had systems this big and this advanced there,” he told Reuters.
“This is militarization. The Chinese can argue that it’s only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and CIWS emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict.
“They keep saying they are not militarizing, but they could deploy fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles tomorrow if they wanted to,” he said. “Now they have all the infrastructure in place for these interlocking rings of defense and power projection.”The report said the installations would likely back up a defensive umbrella provided by a future deployment of mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) platforms like the HQ-9 system deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, farther to the north in the South China Sea.
It forecast that such a deployment could happen “at any time,” noting a recent Fox News report that components for SAM systems have been spotted at the southeastern Chinese port of Jieyang, possibly destined for the South China Sea.
China has said military construction on the islands will be limited to necessary defensive requirements.
The United States has criticized what it called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has also criticized Chinese behavior in the South China Sea while signaling he may adopt a tougher approach to China’s assertive behavior in the region than President Barack Obama.
The State Department said it would not comment on intelligence matters, but spokesman John Kirby added:
“We consistently call on China as well as other claimants to commit to peacefully managing and resolving disputes, to refrain from further land reclamation and construction of new facilities and the militarization of disputed features.”
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Alistair Bell)
Source: Reuters “Exclusive: China installs weapons systems on artificial islands – U.S. think tank”
Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Mil.news.sina.com.cn provides the above most recent HD photos of China artificial islands showing hangars for warplanes have been completed on the islands with airstrips.
According to PLA media, J-11BHs have already been deployed on Yongxing Island. It is expected J-11 deployment will soon be extended to Yongshu (Fiery Cross), Subi and Meiji (Mischief) Islands.
Source: mil.news.sina.com.cn “Newest photos of China’s islands and reefs in the South China Sea: Hangars completed for deployment of J-11 fighter jets” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)
The above are photos of the lighthouses China has built on its reefs and islands in the South China Sea.
Source: hinews.cn “Too beautiful, China’s lighthouses on islands in the South China Sea” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese
Washington Free Beacon says in its report “China Steps Up Naval Presence Near Key Disputed Island” on August 11 that according to above new satellite photos made public by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), China has deployed fighter jets and other warplanes and built hangars for them on the artificial islands it has built on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs in the South China Sea.
The report says, “The three islets are being prepared for hangar space for 24 fighter jets along with three to four larger planes.” However, it says, “Contrary to press reports, the hangars are not hardened against attack. Instead, the aircraft storage facilities are fortified against the frequent storms that pass through the South China Sea.”
It quotes a US defense official as saying that the new facilities are significant military buildup as the hangars can be used to service and repair Chinese warplanes to enable their deployment on the islands permanently.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Washington Free Beacon’s report, full text of which can be viewed at http://freebeacon.com/national-security/china-steps-naval-presence-near-key-disputed-island/
Sina.com web users find some mystic beehive-shaped structures on China’s artificial islands on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs. The above are photos of the mystic structures on and map of Subi Reef. The following 8 photos show the mystic structures on and maps of Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs.
Source: mil.news.sina.com.cn “Satellite photos disclose the appearance of mystic beehive-shaped structures on artificial islands in the South China Sea” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)
China’s official military forum mil.huanqiu.com posts in its report today some photos of China’s garrisons on the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea. I repost some of them here. The most interesting is the first photo of officers operating a radar on Gaven Reefs. There has been Western media speculation that a radar is being built on Gaven Reefs. We now have a photo to confirm that.
Source: mil.huanqiu.com: “Disclosure of Chinese garrisons on the artificial islands China has built in the South China Sea” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)