China continues to consolidate presence, control in S. China Sea


China is beefing up its rapid deployment force in the disputed Spratly Islands to enable it to respond at short notice in case tensions flare up in the South China Sea, which geologists believe contains huge oil and mineral gas deposits, according to Philippine government officials.

Beijing’s rapid expansion and upgrading of military infrastructure on its six occupied reefs in the Spratlys are aimed at transforming these tiny features into fortified man-made islands where it could station military helicopters, maritime surveillance ships and gunboats.

“These reefs will serve as launching pads for the rapid deployment force,” a Philippine security official told Kyodo News, adding the six reefs and the ongoing reclamation of Mischief Reef will function as some kind of a security blanket for China’s plan to gain access to reefs and banks within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

“The strategy is to consolidate its presence and effective control of a larger space close to the ‘dashed-line’ area,” said another government official, referring to China’s maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea.


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