Posted January. 11, 2018 08:09,
Updated January. 11, 2018 08:28
China's militarization of artificial islands disputed areas in the South China Sea has invited strong protests from the United States and the Philippines.
According to South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong, Brian Hook, senior policy adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, accused China of "provocative militarization" of the South China Sea, calling it "one area where China is contesting international law." He warned, by saying, "We are going to back up freedom-of-navigation operations and let them know we will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows."
Since China unilaterally laid territorial claims on 90 percent of the South China Sea, the United States has responded by conducting "freedom of navigation operations," sending its naval ships into waters near China's artificial islands. As the North Korean nuclear issue has become a more important issue since the inauguration of the Trump administration, China has expanded the artificial islands and built military installations.
According to a report released in December by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank, China built a total of 290,000 square meters of military installations on six island in the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands last year. On three of them – Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef – in the Spratly Islands, China has newly installed high frequency radars, missile launch pads and underground tunnels that are believed to be ammunition storehouses. China plans to launch more than 10 artificial satellites over the next three years to conduct round-the-clock surveillance over the South China Sea.
The Philippines, which has territorial disputes with China, also issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing Beijing. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that Manila will lodge a diplomatic protest with China if Beijing had reneged on a pledge not to militarize a disputed South China Sea reef.