China Puts Rocket Launchers on Spratly Islands in South China Sea to Fend Off Vietnam – Report

This aerial view shows the Southwest Cay Islet, part of the Spratly Islands, being claimed by Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea, 21 April 2017. It is the sixth largest of the Spratlies, and the second largest Spratly island to be occupied by Vietnam. It is also claimed by China, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Photo: Francis L. Malasig/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • China has continued its military buildup on islands it claims as its own territory in the South China Sea, according to a report by a state-run newspaper.
  • It has put rocket launchers on Fiery Cross Reef, a disputed island in the Spratly Islands.
  • Rocket launchers in question have the capability to discover, identify, and attack enemy combat divers.
  • Report says the measure is part of a response that began in May 2014, when Vietnamese divers installed large numbers of fishing nets in the Paracel Islands.
  • Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands is administered by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed island in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in order to fend off Vietnam’s claims, according to a report.

All or parts of the islands and territorial waters in the South China Sea are disputed by China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei.

China has been especially assertive in the area recently, and has not shied away from harsh diplomatic confrontation with the other claimants.

It claims as its border in the South China Sea the so called Nine-Dash Line (also referred to as the Ten-Dash Line or the Eleven-Dash Line), a demarcation line, with the claimed territories including the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands, the Scarborough Shoal, the Pratas Islands, and the Macclesfield Bank, among others.

In July 2016, in a case brought by the Philippines, an arbitral tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague found no legal basis for China’s claim of “historic rights” within the Nine-Dash Line in the South China Sea.

According to the tribunal’s ruling, it found no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources within the Nine-Dash Line. The ruling was adamantly rejected by the Chinese government.

Regardless of the ruling in favor of the Philippines, the next Philippine leader, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared his “realignment” with China and has agreed that China and the Philippines should hold joint naval drills, even though he did order the Philippine Navy to boost its presence on the islands under Philippine control.

China has recently put on water its second aircraft carrier, which is its first Chinese-made vessel of this type.

Rocket Launchers on Fiery Cross Reef

China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the South China Sea to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, Reuters reported citing a Chinese state-run newspaper, The Defense Times.

A report of the Defense Times published on Tuesday is said to be offering new details on China’s ongoing military build-up in the South China Sea.

China’s state-run Defense Times newspaper, in a report on its WeChat account, said Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems had been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.

The rocket launchers in question have the capability to discover, identify, and attack enemy combat divers.

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.

Reuters reminds that China has said military construction on the islands it controls in the South China Sea will be limited to necessary defensive requirements.

China’s government has also repeatedly asserted that it can do whatever it likes on what it says is its own territory.

The United States has criticised 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. China has reacted strongly to such American patrols.

The South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest commercial waterways with more than USD 5 trillion worth of world trade shipped through it every year.

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