News / Asia

    US Commander: China Seeking to Control East Asia

    FILE - Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the U.S. Navy, May 21,
    FILE - Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the U.S. Navy, May 21,
    VOA News

    The head of U.S. Pacific Command said Tuesday that China was militarizing the South China Sea despite its pledge not to do so.

    "China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea, and you’d have to believe in flat Earth to think otherwise," Admiral Harry Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Speaking ahead of the meeting in Washington between China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Harris said China was escalating the situation in the South China Sea with new deployments. Asked about Beijing's goals, he said: "I believe China seeks hegemony in East Asia."

    Harris' concerns were backed up by a report released by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies that said China was building a radar system throughout the disputed islands.

    The group's Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative released satellite imagery that shows a high-frequency radar system on Cuarteron reef in the Spratly Islands, as well as a lighthouse, a helicopter landing pad, an underground bunker and other communications equipment.

    Cuarteron reef, in the Spratly Islands
    Cuarteron reef, in the Spratly Islands

    The report said the radar facilities on Cuarteron would "significantly bolster China's ability to monitor surface and air traffic" in the northern part of the South China Sea.

    CSIS also said China appeared to be installing radar facilities at smaller reefs in the Spratlys.  

    At a joint news conference with Wang, Kerry said steps by China, Vietnam and others had escalated the tension in the region.

    "Regrettably, there are missiles, fighter aircraft, guns, artillery and other things that have been placed in the South China Sea, and this is of great concern to everyone who transits and relies on the South China Sea for peaceful trade, commerce and use," Kerry said.

    South China Sea Territorial Claims
    South China Sea Territorial Claims

    Beijing has launched a massive effort to assert its claims over a string of islands in the South China Sea through new construction and island-building, ignoring competing claims by Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

    China has deployed an advanced surface-to-air missile system on Woody Island, which is part of the region's Paracel island chain and is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

    A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracel group last month. U.S. defense officials said the mission was conducted under "freedom of navigation,"  which gives every nation the right to sail through crucial international navigation lanes.  

    Beijing denounced the U.S. action as a provocation and vowed there would be consequences.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: American Eskimo from: San Jose, USA
    February 24, 2016 12:52 AM
    This is action and reaction.
    With bomber (underline bomb) fly over and battle ships (underline battle) sail by, any country will react. To China, the memory of having gunboats came to her shores is like yesterday; why will USA not understand this and stop military provocation.
    FREEDOM OF VAVIGATION is a pretense by USA to butt in. China needs to keep those sea lanes free and clear for her trades. No ship will sail that close to any of those features in Paracel & Spratly without grounding. China has historic claim to the entire water body and she never says INNOCIENT PASSAGE will not be honored.
    USA is the one who seeks hegemony and creates new battlefield in addition to all those USA started world wise meaning more refugees, more deaths and more weapon sells.
    If USA stops her military provocation the escalation ceases. China does not desire tension in her under belly.

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