- US think tank map’s illustrated range of Chinese hardware in West PH Sea
- It showed Palawan as particularly vulnerable to Chinese missiles and aircraft
- Official said China’s outposts indicate intent to dominate entire South China Sea
MANILA, Philippines – A map from Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) showed just how vulnerable the western Philippines would be to Chinese military assets stationed in the West Philippine Sea.
According to the map, China’s J-10 fighter aircraft and YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missiles—particularly those in its outpost in Mischief Reef—would be able to hit all of Palawan inwards as well as a substantial part of the Sulu Sea.
Other Chinese outposts near Palawan also pose a substantial threat to the island.
According to the AMTI, China has substantially built up its assets in the area in a bid to project its power in the region—particularly against the United States.
“Since 2014, China has substantially expanded its ability to monitor and project power throughout the South China Sea via the construction of dual civilian-military bases at its outposts in the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands,” it said. “These include new radar and communications arrays, airstrips and hangars to accommodate combat aircraft, shelters likely meant to house missile platforms, and deployments of mobile surface-to-air and antiship cruise missile systems at Woody Island in the Paracels.”
“For the bases at Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs, fighter and missile ranges represent expected future deployments based on the hangars and shelters built to accommodate those assets,” it added.
AMTI director Gregory Poling clarified that while China has not been observed to transfer military assets on a large-scale to its outposts yet, it will just be a matter of time.
“But once assets are deployed to the Spratlys, it will make life much more difficult for the Philippines and everyone else who has traditionally operated in and around the Spratlys and the waters west of the Philippines,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him as saying.