The U.S. military commander for Asia warned that, China could eventually deploy radar and missile systems on outposts it is building in the South China Sea that could be used to enforce an exclusion zone over the disputed territory, according to a report in Reuters.
Admiral Samuel Locklear described
as aggressive the land reclamation and construction projects China has been conducting at eight military outposts in the South China Sea.
Locklear said the artificial islands planned by China will provide the nation with basing and resupply for its large fleet of maritime security vessels and the country would be able to deploy missiles and radar on the islands.
"It allows them to exert basically greater influence over what's now a contested area," the commander of US forces in the Pacific said.
The building in the Spratleys included better berthing space for ships, as well as what was presumed to be an airfield on the Fiery Cross Reef, Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee.
It would allow China to deploy more patrol ships in the area and to base and resupply them, he said.
Locklear's area of command straddles a vast area of land and ocean where the Obama administration has tried to elevate America's presence, and where other major powers jockey for influence. He was addressing a hearing on U.S. military strategy and posture in the region.
China drew condemnation from Japan and the United States when
it imposed an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), in which aircraft are supposed to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, above the East China Sea in late 2013.
Meanwhile, the revised version of the US maritime strategy (A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower - CS-21R), released last month, has been generating excitement in maritime circles.
It is especially valuable for clearly identifying Chinese assertiveness as a threat, for making existing strategy more relevant, and for providing specific ways to guide operational thinking in strategic scenarios.
The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has just added sophisticated posters detailing Chinese ships and aircraft, equipment, and leadership structure, to its first unclassified report on China’s navy in six years.
ONI’s main document, “The PLA Navy: New Capabilities and Missions for the 21st Century,” already offers a cornucopia of new insights and highly vetted data points.