Chinese analysts said on Thursday that the US cannot follow through on secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson’s suggestion to block Chinese access to its artificial islands in the South China Sea, the South China Morning Post reports. Any attempt would prompt China to step up its military build-up, they added. In his confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Tillerson said China’s “illegal” building of islands and installation of military assets was “akin to Russia’s taking Crimea” from Ukraine. He said, “access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” But Yuan Zheng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of American Studies, said he did not think the US would dare to go through with Tillerson’s suggestion. “The South China Sea is not under the US sphere of influence. It’s China’s territorial waters,” Yuan said.