Beijing has built new military facilities on Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, according to an American think-tank.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, said new satellite images show missile shelters and radar and communications facilities being built on the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs, Reuters reports.
On Fiery Cross Reef, four new missile shelters have come up, adding to the eight such facilities already on the artificial island, the think-tank was quoted as saying.
Mischief and Subi each have eight shelters, AMTI had said in a previous report.
On Mischief Reef, a very large antennae array is being installed that presumably boosts Beijing’s ability to monitor the surroundings, the think-tank said.
The installation should be of concern to the Philippines due to its proximity to an area claimed by Manila, it noted.
As for Fiery Cross, a large dome was installed there recently and another is under construction, indicating a sizeable communications or radar system, according to AMTI.
Two more domes are also being built at Mischief Reef, it said.
“Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time,” the think-tank said in a report.
Washington has criticized China’s build-up of military facilities on the artificial islands and is concerned they could be used to restrict free movement through the South China Sea.
China has denied charges that it is militarizing the sea, which also is claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
In February, Reuters reported that China had nearly finished building structures to house long-range surface-to-air missiles on the artificial islands in the South China Sea.
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