Military buildup in S. China Sea amid tension
The Jakarta Post
Several countries with overlapping claims in the South China Sea are reportedly building up their military powers in the territory — a move that may endanger regional security and stability.
According to Indonesian Center of Democracy, Diplomacy and Defense executive director Teuku Rezasyah, Malaysia has two battleships, the Philippines one, China 27 and Taiwan 26 operating in the South China Sea.
He said Vietnam had several escort vessels operating in the area, while no data was available for
Brunei’s operations there.
“China’s 27 naval vessels do not even include the aircraft carrier and submarines [it operates in the South China Sea],” he told The Jakarta Post recently.
He said a Type 093 Shang class nuclear-powered attack submarine was observed at the pier under construction.
Significant construction is still underway at the Yalong Bay Naval Base on Hainan Island, including a fourth submarine pier at the southern section of the base, increased camouflage over the submarine pen and a bunkered rail line on the eastern side of the basin peninsula, he said.
“China has successfully massively reclaimed shores on Nam Yit Island and Southwest Cay Island, which borders the Philippines. China has made those hubs for its aircraft carriers based on satellite imagery,”
He said that China was likely preparing for a worst-case scenario, with Nam Yit Island able to support three aircraft carriers.
China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan all have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, which is estimated to have oil and natural gas reserves amounting to 17.7 billion tons, making it the world’s fourth-largest reserve bed.
The Paracels are claimed by China and Vietnam; Scarborough Shoals and Reed Bank are claimed by China and the Philippines; Tungsha is claimed by China and Taiwan; the Spratlys are claimed by China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, according to the ASEAN Secretariat.
According to Reza, Malaysia has built military bases on Layang-layang, a resort island that has a 1,356-meter-long airplane runway and is only 300 kilometers away from Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia’s Sabah.
Northeast Cay Island, which is claimed by the Philippines, is integrated with the United States 7th Fleet. Although it is hard to physically verify it, “planes that are used in that area are the same planes used by the US 7th Fleet”, he said.
Taiwan is building up its military forces in Tai Ping Dao Island (Itu Aba Island), which is also claimed by China, the Philippines and Vietnam, he said.
“What I’m afraid of is if China seizes Tai Ping Dao Island, which is claimed by Taiwan, because there will be no one who can do anything to help, not even ASEAN, thanks to the one China policy,” Rezasyah said.
The territorial disputes in the South China Sea have brought the US into the field that is anticipating the risk of Chinese aggression possibly through its plan to deploy 2,500 US marines in Australia’s Darwin, which is only 820 kilometers away from Indonesia.
Already, the US has 29,086 military personnel at its bases in South Korea and 35,688 military personnel at its bases in Japan, according to various sources.
The US also allegedly asked for Indonesia’s help to counter China by asking Indonesia to use its newly granted F-16 fighter jets to help the US deal with China “if anything bad happens in the South China Sea”, a source told the Post.
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