ASIA TIMES — The People’s Republic of China continues to up the ante in the South China Sea. Various reports, including my own, suggest Beijing has now likely placed anti-ship missiles on Woody Island, a disputed island in this important body of water. This is on top of various other escalatory military deployments including advanced radar platforms, fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft batteries and various other systems that indicate China is seeking to expand its offensive and defensive military footprint. In fact, in a recent letter to US Senator John McCain, Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper stated that “based on the pace and scope of construction at these outposts, China will be able to deploy a range of offensive and defensive military capabilities and support increased PLAN and CCG presence …,” adding that “once these facilities are completed by the end of 2016 or early 2017, China will have significant capacity to quickly project substantial offensive military power to the region.”
Considering the speedy and comprehensive nature of Chinese island reclamation projects — with media reports offering the possibility Beijing may begin reclamation work at Scarborough Shoal— US military planners should begin to consider what other types of military assets China will likely place in the South China Sea in the months and years to come.