DND verifying reports of new Chinese defenses at Spratly Islands

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THE Department of National Defense (DND) is verifying reports that China has installed weapons systems on artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

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MILITARIZED? Photos from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies show supposed “point-defense systems” at Cuarteron Reef, where China has built an artificial island. The reef is occupied by China but is claimed by the Philippines as part of Kalayaan municipality in Palawan.

MILITARIZED? Photos from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies show supposed “point-defense systems” at Cuarteron Reef, where China has built an artificial island. The reef is occupied by China but is claimed by the Philippines as part of Kalayaan municipality in Palawan.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that if true, China’s action would be a major concern not only to the Philippines but also to the international community that uses the disputed waterways for trade.

“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area which is not good,” said Lorenzana.

The Defense chief was reacting to a report that claimed the Chinese had installed weapons systems on all seven artificial islands it had built in the contested waters as indicated by photographs released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a Washington-based think tank.

The Philippines’ claims to the area were upheld in July by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which invalidated the “nine-dash line” used by China to claim 90 percent of the South China Sea including the Spratly Islands and fishing areas within Philippine territory.

AMTI said that based on the tracking it conducted in June and July this year, anti-aircraft guns and other weapons systems were sitting on hexagonal structures on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross), Panganiban Reef (Mischief) and Zamora Reef (Subi).

“China appears to have built significant point-defense capabilities, in the form of large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems (CIWS), at each of its outposts in the Spratly Islands,” the AMTI said on its website.

“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 added.

AMTI said these were indications Beijing was serious about the defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea.

“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. They would back up the defensive umbrella provided by a future deployment to the Spratlys of mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) platforms, such as the HQ-9 deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands. Such a deployment could happen at any time, and Fox News has reported that components for SAM systems have been spotted at the southeastern Chinese port of Jieyang, possibly destined for the South China Sea,” it explained.

In September this year, the Philippine Air Force confirmed reports of the presence of several Chinese barges in the West Philippine Sea.

Lorenzana said the Air Force took photos of the Chinese ships in the disputed waterways. There were four China Coast Guard ships (one guarding the entrance to the shoal) and six other ships colored blue and in varying configurations, he said.

On Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told journalists that he was not aware of the AMTI report, but said that islands in the South China Sea were the country’s “inherent territory.”

“To conduct construction on China’s own territory and deploy necessary national defense facilities is quite normal,” he said, adding that the deployment of defensive weapons had “nothing to do with militarization.”

China’s defense ministry said on a verified social media account that the construction was mostly for civilian use, and that necessary military installations were for self-defense.

“If someone were flexing his muscles outside your door, wouldn’t you get a slingshot ready?” it wrote.

 WITH A REPORT FROM AFP

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5 Comments

  1. Our arm forces like Vietnam should show some toughness in resisting China’s intrusion in our territory.
    Vietnam sought the assistance of US because of China’s take over of Paracel Island. Pag pinagbgiyan natin o pinabayaan ang bullying at tactics ng China meron tayong kinalalagyan. Kawawa ang ating sambayanan. Sino ang makikinabang eh di Intsik.

  2. What is there to verify. You can not do crap anyway. Stopped acting surprise. As far as your EEZ, it has been severely violated and will continue to be violated. All this while your elected officials and milatry brass continue to raped and plounder the country, and continue to play politics to keep the masses from improving their lives.and keeping the country from progressing. This has been on going since the country became indepedent. The corruption mentality is imbedded in the Filipino genes and culture. With the exception of OFWs, no major improvements of Filipino lives has been achieved from multiple adminstrations.

    Hope US will confront China and enforce the Hague ruling for international freedom of navigation and air traverse over the SCS. As for violation of Philippine EEZ, they don’t need help from anybody. US should stop any arm sales and donations to Philippines.

  3. I wonder why we have to wait for this things to happen, obviously, China is lying all the the while. Now that China is already setting up her defenses against the world. What are we going to now, will boycotting China will work, or will sanctioning will be more effective. Will Duterte side with China or with USA and it’s allies?

    • Absolutely correct. Our country will be a sitting duck. Do we have to wait till China put in operation two additional aircraft carriers.