China’s land reclamation efforts in the disputed South China Sea may eventually become the nation’s first island chain, allowing the nation to contain the US military facilities in Australia according to the Japan Military Review, a defense magazine based in Tokyo.
Saburo Tanaka, a Japanese expert in Chinese military development said that the US bases in Australia have become the primary concern of the People’s Liberation Army. With the land reclamation projects in the disputed region, China is capable of defending its maritime supply line in the north of the Strait of Malacca while preventing the US Pacific Fleet from entering the South China Sea from the Celebes Sea according to the article.
The blueprint drawn by the Ninth Design and Research Institute of the state-run China State Shipbuilding Corporation indicates that the PLA plans to build both naval and air force bases on the six islands and reefs under its control in the South China Sea. China is said to be constructing an airfield on Johnson South Reef which is about 3,200 kilometers away from the northern coast of Australia. From there, the PLA’s H-6 strategic bombers with a combat radius of 1,800 kilometers could potentially launch an attack against Australia.
Other countries in the region including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, are also within the attack range of the H-6 bombers. Singapore could potentially be an important target for the PLA because the US Navy may station more littoral combat ships there in the future. China also plans to build ports with enough capability to hold ships with a displacement of over 5,000 tons, which would mean all kinds of PLA warships could be deployed to the region.
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