China installs cruise missiles on South China Sea outposts

China installs cruise missiles on South China Sea outposts

The White House issued a stern warning to Beijing on Thursday over reports that its military installed new missile systems - some anti-ship, others surface-to-air - on island outposts in the South China Sea.

"There will be near-term and long-term consequences, and we'll certainly keep you up to date", she added.

China's defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

"The relevant deployment targets no one".

"Those who don't intend to violate [this sovereignty] have no reason to worry", she said.

Following shortly after reports that China installed radar-jamming equipment in the South China Sea, intelligence assessments have now confirmed that missiles have also been installed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef of the Spratly Islands, located west of the Philippines.

While the White House wouldn't say what the "consequences" would be over the military installments, Sayers told Reuters that the United States could rescind Beijing's invitation to this year's RIMPAC multilateral naval exercises in Hawaii, which take place in July. "The further militarization of outposts will only serve to raise tensions and create greater distrust among claimants".

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"Any action to militarize unilaterally features in the South China Sea would go against that responsibility and that role". "All we can do is manage it", Koh said.

The missile deployments are just the latest example of Beijing tightening its hold on the South China Sea in recent years, as the world's attention focused farther north, on the Korean Peninsula.

China could use the bases to challenge the US regional presence, and "would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants".

The White House has warned China that it will not accept the continued military build-up in the hotly contested region.

"While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other nonmilitary functions, electronic jamming equipment is only for military use", a U.S. Defense Department official told the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Adm. Philip Davidson said last month that China's forward operating bases appear to already be complete.

"The only thing lacking are the deployed forces", he said.