China builds new military facilities on West PH Sea island – Report

Images from AMTI

MANILA, Philippines  –  China has built a number of military facilities on different islands in the West Philippine Sea; this was revealed in the latest report by Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).

These facilities include missile shelters, radar/communications facilities, and other infrastructure which are currently being built on Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs; features claimed by several Asian nations including the Philippines.

AMTI’s report dated June 29, 2017 came amid ongoing bilateral negotiations between China and the Philippines in hopes of finding a peaceful resolution to the maritime dispute in the region.

It has almost been a year since the arbitration court in The Hague, Netherlands invalidated Beijing’s claim to almost 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea/ South China Sea in favor of the Philippines.

On Fiery Cross, four additional missile shelters with retractable roofs were reportedly added since February; putting the number of existing similar structures in the island to 12, said the AMTI report.

Another large antenna was also constructed on Mischief Reefs; apparently to boost further the island’s communications and radar capabilities.

Additionally, very large underground structures are being built – four on each three reefs – which are believed to be storage houses for munitions and other essential materials.

On Subi Reef, hangars for 24 combat aircraft and four larger hangars were just recently completed. AMTI showed satellite images of these structures on their website.

Last month, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visited China; a move that has been largely expected by many analysts and is seen as  pivotal in the strained diplomatic relations between US and the Philippines and the warming ties between China and the Philippines.