Aerial photos published by the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies show that China has continued the fortification of its man-made islands in the South China Sea, which now bristle with bunkers, aircraft hangars and shelters for radar, aircraft, warships and artillery, the Financial Times reports.
The new construction means that China will be able to station fighter jets and warships on the islands in 2018, allowing it to make ambitious claims to territorial waters and airspace around them if Beijing chooses, according to analysts. Bonnie Glaser, an East Asia expert at CSIS, said China “has just quietly continued to build facilities and prepare for the militarization of the islands, but they haven’t gone ahead with deploying the platforms.”
According to the FT, the lack of global attention on China’s island-building reflects the shift in priorities that has taken place under the administration of US President Donald Trump, whose Asia security policy has focused on North Korea and has placed less emphasis on shoring up alliances.
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