Chinese missiles in Spratlys threaten PH int'l air, sea access: analyst

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Posted at May 05 2018 05:04 PM

Chinese missiles in Spratlys threaten PH int'l air, sea access: analyst 1
An aerial view of an uninhabited island in the Spratlys archipelago in the disputed South China Sea, April 21, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA - China's installation of missiles in the Spratly islands threatens the Philippines' international access in the disputed South China Sea, an analyst said Saturday.

Anders Corr, an analyst with The Journal of Political Risk, said Beijing's militarization efforts in the South China Sea "constricts" Manila's access to air and sea routes.

"It threatens in the future to constrict Philippines access to the outside world," he told ANC.

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China has built several artificial islands in the South China Sea and equipped them with runways, missile systems, and communication facilities.

Earlier this week, Beijing confirmed that it has installed missiles in the Spratly islands but maintained that the move "targets no one."

The Chinese army installed anti-ship and air-to-air defenses on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines over the last 30 days, American television network CNBC reported Wednesday, citing sources close to United States intelligence.

The new Chinese missiles were reportedly deployed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, according to CNBC.

They are all in the Spratlys archipelago located in waters south of mainland China between Vietnam and the Philippines.

Malacañang has expressed concern over the missile deployment but noted that “we are confident that those missiles are not directed at us.”

Aside from invoking the Permanent Court of Arbitration's decision validating the Philippines' maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, Corr said Manila could also file a formal diplomatic protest.

"The Philippines could do quite a bit. The first thing would be to launch a formal diplomatic protest. The second thing would be to call in the ambassador from China into the Palace for talking to..." he said.

China has ignored the landmark July 2016 ruling that invalidated its nine-dash line claim over nearly all of the South China Sea. 

Corr, who also studies international politics, noted that the Philippines' renewed friendship with China under President Rodrigo Duterte paved the way for China's "provocation."

"It's exactly the close relationship that the Duterte government has with China that's allowing China to do this along with the fact that the US has not been tough enough to China on the South China Sea," he said. 

Malacañang on Friday said it "would explore all diplomatic means to address this issue.”