China Completes Construction Of New Missile Shelters On Disputed South China Sea Islands

Trump's "up and down" relationship with China may be on the precipice of taking a sharp dive into the proverbial abyss.  After frequently threatening to label China a "currency manipulator" on the campaign trail last year, Trump's relationship with China's President Xi Jinping took a decided turn for the better after a meeting at Mar-a-Lago in which China vowed to help address the "menace of North Korea" .

But apparently those efforts have officially failed:

 

And, shortly after those efforts were declared dead, the Trump administration signed a $1.3 billion arms deal with Taiwan, a deal which China has "demanded" be cancelled immediately.

Meanwhile, as the Financial Times points out today, in the midst of all the international crises, China has made great strides building out and further militarizing their disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Over the past three months, China has built four new missile shelters on Fiery Cross, boosting the number of installations on the reef to 12, according to satellite images provided to the Financial Times by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

 

China has also expanded radar facilities on Fiery Cross and two other disputed reefs — Subi and Mischief — in the Spratly Island chain, and started building underground structures that Greg Poling, director of CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, assesses will be used to store munitions.

 

“We haven’t seen any slowdown in construction, including since the Mar-a-Lago summit,” said Mr Poling. “The islands are built and they are clearly militarised, which means they already got over the hard part. Now every time they put in a new radar or new missile shelter, it is harder for the world to get angry. They are building a gun, they are just not putting the bullets in yet.”

 

The advances underscore how much progress China has made towards militarizing the man-made islands in ways that significantly enhance its ability to both monitor activity in the South China Sea and to project power in the western Pacific where the US has been the dominant power in the seven decades since the second world war.

Euan Graham, an Asia expert at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, said it was “not quite game over in the South China Sea” but that China had fundamentally altered the status quo over the islands that would be hard to change barring war or natural disasters.

 

“They already exert a strategic effect by projecting China’s presence much further out,” said Mr Graham. “They will not prevent the US Navy from operating in their vicinity, but they will complicate the threat environment for US ships and aircraft — by extending the [Chinese navy’s] surveillance and targeting net, as well as the envelope of power projection.”

 

Of course, these latest provocations come despite a promise made to Obama in 2015 that "China would not militarize the man-made islands"...a promise which the Obama administration apparently took at face value and proceeded to bury their heads in the sand.

During a visit to Washington, Mr Xi told Barack Obama in 2015 that China would not militarise the man-made islands, but in the intervening 20 months Beijing has stepped up construction, and now has runways that can accommodate Chinese fighter jets.

 

China’s legal claim to the seas around the maritime features is legally controversial since many were dredged out of coral and sand and thus not entitled to status as islands. But Vasily Kashin, an expert on the Chinese military at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said the goal was never legal sovereignty but to give China forward bases from which it could patrol and exercise control in their vicinity.

 

“If you have this infrastructure in the Spratlys, it allows China to constantly monitor aircraft and ships in the South China Sea. The point is that no one will be able to do anything in the area without them seeing.”

 

Ely Ratner, an Asia expert who served in the Obama administration, said Washington had failed to craft a strategy to convince China to halt militarisation of the man-made islands. “Until China believes that there will be significant costs . . . I don’t think they have any reason to slow down,” said Mr Ratner. “They have been pushing on an open door and have been surprised at how little resistance they have faced.”

 

Critics say the Obama administration took too cautious an approach to avoid creating tensions that would hurt the ability for co-operation on other issues. Meanwhile, some experts say the Trump team has given China a relatively free pass to maximise the chances it will boost pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear programme.

Somehow we suspect the Trump administration will end up being slightly less "accommodating" over the long term...

Comments

Insurrexion (not verified) Sat, 07/01/2017 - 18:10 Permalink

Nice work.Isn't the Magic Negro, Michael and someone else's daughters vacationing in Indonesia (500km away)?

Kotzbomber747 (not verified) knukles Sat, 07/01/2017 - 18:46 Permalink

As David Stockman wrote: Trump is just a complete idiot with a Twitter account, and most Americans (dumb as shit) still believe his 'fake-it-till-you-make-it' bullshit.Every time China wants to expand their (military) presence in the South China Sea, they ask their proxy North Korea to fire off some missiles, and Trump (having a "most beautiful piece of chocolate cake" with president Xi) has now painted himself completely into a corner.He has pissed off the Chinese with the arms deal with Taiwan, he has pissed off the North Koreans, he has pissed off the South Koreans and the result is that North Korea just keeps on expanding their missile arsenal and that China just keeps on expanding their islands in the South China Sea. Cancel the arms deal with Taiwan, and he'll piss off the Taiwanese.Checkmate!

In reply to by knukles

Kotzbomber747 (not verified) HowdyDoody Sun, 07/02/2017 - 02:58 Permalink

Judging by the kudos, plenty of Trump fanboys here on ZH.Amazing how people could be so dumb to believe that The Orange Jesus and Clown in Chief would;1) increase military (MIC) spending, and,2) drain the swamp.The Swamp is the MIC and he's never going to drain anything!Are you guys also stupid enough to believe that the self-proclaimed "King of Debt" will stop/reduce government borrowing, increase interest rates and return to a strong Dollar policy?Trump is a dangerous and clueless idiot.

In reply to by HowdyDoody

merizobeach Kotzbomber747 (not verified) Sun, 07/02/2017 - 00:18 Permalink

"Cancel the arms deal with Taiwan, and he'll piss off the Taiwanese."Absolutely no one in the world outside of Taiwan and its expat community cares if Taiwan gets pissed off or shit on.  The arms deal is simply a case of leaning on a small, rich chump in a precarious position (of their own inept making) for a regular tithing of protection money while sending a deliberate 'fuck you' to China.

In reply to by Kotzbomber747 (not verified)

Lurk Skywatcher Kotzbomber747 (not verified) Sat, 07/01/2017 - 18:46 Permalink

"Of course, these latest provocations come despite a promise made to Obama in 2015 that "China would not militarize the man-made islands"...a promise which the Obama administration apparently took at face value and proceeded to bury their heads in the sand."Whoops, looks like America fell for a quintessential American move - the false promise.

In reply to by Kotzbomber747 (not verified)

Anteater Kotzbomber747 (not verified) Sat, 07/01/2017 - 18:51 Permalink

That's why the Admiralty maps call it the South CHINA Sea, and have since the British Opium Wars.Having the Orange Jesuit in charge of foreign policy is like a chimp running amok in a china shop.You break it, you die, lol. Hey, at least Trump is entertaining, ...like a one-handed juggler at Buchenwald."And now for my next act ...no more public healthcare!!" Dee,dee,deedee,deedee,dee,dee,dee,dee.... >>>>>\|/<<<<<
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|___| |_________| |___|
|___| ========= |___|
|___| |-------| |___|
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In reply to by Kotzbomber747 (not verified)

rejected Sat, 07/01/2017 - 18:12 Permalink

Hey,,, along with a war against Syria, Yemen, N. Korea, Iran, and Russia, maybe we should show those rascally Chinese who's da big guy on the block!Yea, Flex those biceps Merica!

Allen_H Sat, 07/01/2017 - 18:37 Permalink

I do not quite get it....What is the problem? And what does it have to do with jewMERIKKKA?N.Korea is just a scam to get you stupid fucks to validate an attack you WILL regret!RIGHT....Any Questions?

any_mouse Sat, 07/01/2017 - 18:38 Permalink

Safe spaces for missiles. Missiles have feelings.

Real smart, use China to control DPRK, then immediately declare a trade war on China.

This is the nature of US Foreign Policy for decades, regardless of which of the two allowed parties are in power.

Psychopaths in charge.

Trey Gowdy's Benghazi hearings accomplished what exactly, besides tweets and videos?

Theater. Public Spectacle.

MaxThrust Sat, 07/01/2017 - 18:58 Permalink

Any chance we could have satelite images of all the buildings in Area 51 and other neighboughing areas of secret military activities.No? ................ I thort as much.

silverer Sat, 07/01/2017 - 19:24 Permalink

Nice job on those islands, guys. The boys out there sure can get 'er done. Next, come over here and build one hell of a roller coaster. We'll call it the "Rolling Dragon". Mach 0.4 will do it. Next year, if there's no WWIII, we'll step it up to mach 1.

qdone Sat, 07/01/2017 - 19:32 Permalink

don't see US holds any cards in what is clearly an inevitable coming (before end of trump's 2 terms) end game. the 800 lb gorilla surely thinks by this point it's gonna inherit the earth.

JustPastPeacefield Sat, 07/01/2017 - 19:39 Permalink

"America Builds Military Base in Carribean Basin. China Alarmed.""American Military Strength in Gulf of Mexico Growing. Chinese Military Watching Closely.""American Carrier Group Enters Carribean Waters. China Questions Freedom of the Seas.""China Fleet Sails Gulf of Mexico in Stark Warning to America.""China Demands USA Out of Gulf. Warns Trump." Americans understand America is in decline and needs to focus on its own potentially fatal problems. Our ruling class elites still have fantasies about American supremacy rooted in another time, another place. To think that the world's second largest econmic power will bow gracefully as the USA calls the shots in its own back yard is a bit of insanity.  Frankly, it's as bizzare as the Russian Threat obsession of the Left, and the warmongering Right.Let China, Japan and the rest of the Asian powers work out their own balance of power in their own God-damn backyard. It's none of our fucking business. I don't give a shit who governs Taiwan, or Hong Kong. Let them fight it out.I give a shit about how the once-great country that I was born into became a Third World shithole unable to elect a moderately honest and competent goverment. I care about the USA becoming an enemy of its own people.Our elites are dragging us into another world war. If you want to know how it ends, open a fucking history book. Not too many happy endings.  

apoplectic query Sat, 07/01/2017 - 19:45 Permalink

Just busy work to give people jobs, like those empty cities. Islands can't move or submerge to avoid attack. One tactical nuke in the water would probably swamp all of them. Or one MOAB per island. They are no threat.