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China Nears Completion of Military Bases on S China Sea Reefs

28.03.2017 16:04

China has almost completed the construction of military facilities on the disputed South China Sea Islands, the US-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) think tank said.

Beijing has almost completed the construction of military and dual-use facilities on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the US-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) think tank said.

"Major construction of military and dual-use infrastructure on the 'Big 3'—Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross Reefs — is wrapping up, with the naval, air, radar, and defensive facilities that AMTI has tracked for nearly two years largely complete. Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time," the AMTI said Monday citing the information from satellite images made earlier in March.

The think tank added that China had also constructed hangars on the three reefs for up to 24 combat aircraft each, however the Fiery Cross facility has the additional capability to accommodate four larger planes, such as refueling or bomber aircraft.

The region of the South China Sea is the place of several territorial disputes between China and other countries, such as the Philippines and Vietnam. The Spratly Islands, also known as the Nansha Islands, are contested by Beijing, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Hanoi and Taipei.

In July 2016, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled in favor of Manila after it challenged Beijing's claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea. However, China refused to recognize the tribunal's ruling.