China is almost finished building military structures on its artificial islands in the South China Sea (SCS), Reuters reports, in a development that is sure to test the new Trump administration.
Unnamed U.S. officials told the news service construction is almost complete on nearly two dozen structures with retractable roofs designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles on the Spratly Island chain.
The new development could be considered a military escalation on China’s part, several experts told VOA, and could serve as an early test for President Donald Trump, who took a hard line against China throughout his campaign.
“This is part of their effort to eventually control that first island chain in the SCS and assert their claim, even though they have been completely repudiated by the International Court of Appeals, The Hague, based on the Law of the Sea Treaty, of which they are a member,” Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told VOA.
Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Hawaii-based security think tank Pacific Forum, told VOA this was another step in China’s recent attempts to further militarize the islands.