China installs high-frequency radars in secret plot to militarise islands over WW3 fears
It comes military expert Li Jie warned that China has started preparing its military to support North Korea if World War 3 breaks out with the US.
And now satellite images reveal Chinese activity has been detected on the Spratly and Paracel islands, contested with several other Asian nations, spanning 72 acres (29 hectares).
Over the last several months China has constructed what appears to be a new high-frequency radar array at the northern end of Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys, according to a report by the Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Maritime Initiative.
Subi Reef has seen tunnels built which the expert believe may be used for ammunition.
The think tank also believes Chinese tunnels are potentially hiding another radar antenna array and radar domes.
Meanwhile construction on Mischief Reef includes underground storage for ammunition and hangars, missile shelters and radar arrays.
Smaller-scale work had continued in the Paracel Islands, including a new helipad and wind turbines on Tree Island and two large radar towers on Triton Island.
Triton Island has been at the centre of recent tension between China and Vietnam and the site of multiple US Navy drills.
The operations by the US Navy have been used assert what it sees as its right to free passage in international waters.
Woody Island, China’s military and administrative headquarters in the South China Sea, saw two first-time air deployments “that hint at things to come at the three Spratly Island air bases farther south”, according to the report.
At the end of October, the Chinese military released images showing J-11B fighters at Woody Island for exercises, while on November 15, AMTI spotted what appeared to be Y-8 transport planes, a type that can be configured for electronic surveillance.
The US and its allies – including the UK – have condemned China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea and their militarisation.
But China has hit back claiming the construction is “peaceful” and “completely normal”.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: “It’s completely normal for China to conduct peaceful construction and build essential defence equipment on its own sovereign territory.
“We believe certain people who have ulterior motives are making mountains out of molehills and stirring up trouble.”
The Pentagon has conducted several patrols near Chinese-held South China Sea territory this year, even as it has sought China’s help in northeast Asia to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated a call for a “freeze” in China’s island building and said it was unacceptable to continue their militarisation.
Last week the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted military exercises along the North Korean border sparking speculation Beijing was preparing a war breaking out between the US and North Korea.
The fear of war between the two countries has risen over the past several months after China’s neighbour carried out a number of illegal missile tests and threatened to target the US territory of Guam with a nuclear missile.
Following the announcement regarding China’s new military drills, military expert Li Jie has given her verdict as to who the country would side within any future conflict.