China has been “arming them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment, and fighter jets.”
While China’s ally Russia is waging a full-fledged war in Ukraine, Beijing is busy militarizing its illegally encroached artificial islands in the South China Sea, a senior U.S. admiral disclosed.
Communist China has “fully militarized at least three of several islands” and “arming them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment, and fighter jets,” the Associated Press reported on Monday citing U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John C. Aquilino.
These militarized islands are equipped with airfields fit for nuclear-capable bombers. In any future military conflict in Asian Pacific, especially a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan, these islands will play a critical military role.
The AP News reported the top U.S. admiral’s remarks:
China has fully militarized at least three of several islands it built in the disputed South China Sea, arming them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment, and fighter jets in an increasingly aggressive move that threatens all nations operating nearby, a top U.S. military commander said Sunday.
U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. John C. Aquilino said the hostile actions were in stark contrast to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s past assurances that Beijing would not transform the artificial islands in contested waters into military bases. The efforts were part of China’s flexing its military muscle, he said.
“I think over the past 20 years we’ve witnessed the largest military buildup since World War II by the PRC,” Aquilino told The Associated Press in an interview, using the initials of China’s formal name. “They have advanced all their capabilities and that buildup of weaponization is destabilizing to the region.”
China’s massive island-building project, which first came to light under President Barack Obama’s watch, has created 3200 acres of ‘new land’ and extended the Chinese military reach in the region, estimates show. “Using the islands, China has the potential to project military power all the way down to northern Australia or into the Indian Ocean,” the Australian TV channel Nine News reported last year.
China has declared these artificial islands as a legitimate part of its territory by setting up fictitious local governments. These illegal islands infringe on the sovereignty of many of China’s maritime neighbors, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
These weaponized manufactured islands, also dubbed China’s ‘Great Wall of Sand,’ is part of Beijing’s grand maritime strategy. China’s People Liberation Army (PLA), which in 2017 took control of the port of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, eyes other bases across the globe. The PLA is building a naval port in Gwadar, Pakistan, giving it access to the Arabian Sea.
Tensions Brewing Between Russia and Japan
With the Russian military offensive against Ukraine in full swing, President Vladimir Putin is heating a new territorial dispute in the east.
Russia “withdrew from peace treaty talks with Tokyo and froze joint economic projects related to the disputed Kuril Islands because of sanctions imposed by” Japan in response to its invasion of Ukraine, The South China Morning Post reported Tuesday. Russia and Japan have not formally ended their World War II hostilities over the seizure of Kuril islands by the Soviet Union in the 1940s.
“The Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday said it will withdraw from negotiations with Japan for a peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities in response to sanctions over the war in Ukraine,” the Japanese business daily Nikkei reported Monday.
China, Russia’s de facto military ally, also has a territorial dispute with Japan over the control of Senkaku islands located in the East China Sea. Russia has recently emerged as China’s junior military partner on the world stage. In November 2021, three months ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Beijing, and Moscow sealed a “road map” for closer military cooperation by 2026.DONATE
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