China is widely forecast to bolster its military power next year in the South China Sea to resist Japan, India and the United States, as well as the Asian states that dispute Beijing’s maritime claims.
Scholars believe China will eventually enhance radar surveillance and let fighter jets use tiny islets for stopovers. Beijing might declare an air defense identification zone or other means of maritime control, too, they suggest.
It probably hopes the United States, along with militarily powerful allies such as Japan and India, will stay out after they jumped into the dispute this year, according to Oh Ei Sun, international studies instructor at Singapore Nanyang University.
“I don’t think they’re primarily offensive in nature, but of course with those installations in place, they will have more bargaining chips, they’re in a stronger position to say the U. S. should not perform [freedom of navigation operations] and such in the South China Sea,” Oh said.
China this year added installations in the Paracel and Spratly Islands, said the Asia Maritime Transparency Institute of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.