MANILA, Philippines – China has installed rocket launchers on one of the disputed islands in the Spratly group in the West Philippines Sea.
The state-run newspaper Defense Times said the Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems was installed on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef) to ward off military combat divers from Vietnam.
The rocket launchers have the capability of discovering, identifying and attacking combat divers.
Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef is a group of three reefs on the western edge of Dangerous Ground in the Spratly Islands under the administration of China but also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The newspaper did not mention when the defense systems were installed but pointed out its deployment had been part of a ‘reactive measures’ that began about three years ago. In 2014, the Vietnamese installed large numbers of fishing nets in the nearby Paracel Islands.
Over the years, China has conducted large-scale reclamation works in Kagitingan Reef including building an airport and other facilities.
Just recently, President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that bilateral consultations between the Philippines and China on the issue of territorial dispute will start rolling in Beijing on May 19.
“Since my state visit last year, the Philippines and China have seen the valued friendships become stronger. I look forward to productive discussions today to continue this positive engagement to further deepen our relations,” said Duterte following his recent visit to Beijing for the ‘One Belt One Road Summit last week.