China to secure ‘de facto’ control of S. China Sea: US admiral


“If China continues to arm all of the bases they have reclaimed in the South China Sea, they will change the operational landscape in the region,” Harris told Pentagon reporters.

“Short of war with the United States, China will exercise de facto control of the South China Sea.”

Harris, who heads up the US Pacific Command, visited the Pentagon after several hearings in Washington at which he warned lawmakers about the pace of China’s maritime militarization.

“Harris is raising alarm about what could happen if there’s not sufficient push back, that’s what he’s trying to provoke here, a more robust response from the region and outside the region,” said Bonnie Glaser, a senior Asia advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The US cannot do this alone.”

China is using dredgers to turn reefs and low-lying features into larger land masses for runways and other military uses to bolster its claims of sovereignty in the region.

Satellite imagery released this week shows Beijing is installing radar gear, and China has also deployed surface-to-air missiles and lengthened a runway to accommodate fighter jets on one islet, Woody Island, in the Paracels.

Beijing appears to be preparing what is known as an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the entire South China Sea, through which it can militarily query any vessel or aircraft.

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