China building advanced radar on disputed islands, analyst says

The islands in question are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 23, 2016 at 1:01 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- China could be constructing high-frequency radar on disputed islands in the South China Sea, a think tank in Washington, D.C., stated in a recent report.

Gregory Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative wrote China's land reclamation on a reef in the Spratly Islands has added another 52 acres for Beijing's use, Bloomberg reported.

On the new land, China seemed to have built structures resembling radar towers in a northern section, and several 65-foot poles have been established in a southern area.

According to Poling, the poles could be a high-frequency radar installation that could enhance China's monitoring capabilities in the South China Sea.

The islands in question are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, but China has continued construction despite protests from non-claimant countries, including the United States and Japan.

China said more than 80 percent of the South China Sea belongs to Beijing, according to Bloomberg, and the United States is concerned such claims are a preliminary move to exclude U.S. vessels from international waters.

News of the unabated activities in the Spratlys follow a recent report China has deployed a system of advanced surface-to-air missiles in the Paracel Islands, also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had said that evidence of militarization now appears "every day," and has previously called for a guarantee for freedom of navigation.

In a response to the CSIS report, China has denied claims that it is in violation of international law, state news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday.

A press release from the Ministry of National Defense said the deployment of defense facilities is permitted, according to international law, and that the facilities include navigation and meteorological equipment for civilian use.

"Someone turned a blind eye to the U.S. behavior, but criticized China's legitimate islands construction over and over again. It is deliberately stirring up trouble with ulterior motives and exaggerating the tension," China said in statement.

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