Aside from China and Taiwan that lay claim to almost 90 percent of the South China Sea as an integral part of their respective maritime and territorial domain, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping maritime claims in the area. AP

Japan warns of China’s militarization in South China Sea anew
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — China’s military buildup in the South China Sea will lead to an increase of its air force presence and robust naval and maritime enforcement operations in the disputed region, the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) warned in a paper provided to journalists who recently visited Tokyo.

Closely watching China’s activities, in relation to its own security concerns over the Senkaku Group of Islands in the southernmost territory close to Taiwan in the East China Sea, the JSDF warning added that the facilities could dramatically improve Beijing’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other capabilities in the disputed Spratly Islands.

It added that this development would dramatically improve China’s ISR capabilities in the central and southern portions of the South China Sea, which will have considerable impact on coastal states as well as on the sealanes in the region.

Aside from China and Taiwan that lay claim to almost 90 percent of the South China Sea as an integral part of their respective maritime and territorial domain, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping maritime claims in the area.

The JSDF paper described Chinese militarization of Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, Zamora (Subi) Reef and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef as the most worrisome.

Aside from 3,000-meter runways, China has built on three artificial islands port facilities capable of berthing, re-supply and maintenance for its air and naval fleets.

“The three features with runways and support facilities would enable China to forward-deploy various aerial platforms including fighters, bombers and unmanned aerial vehicles,” the JSDF paper said.

It added that ramifications potentially include: improved air power-projection capability over the entire South China Sea; enhanced air superiority over the disputed region; improved anti-access/area denial capabilities against US military presence and its intervention to contingencies and to support the declaration of South China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

Two years ago, China’s defense ministry in a statement said declaring ADIZ in the South China Sea would depend on whether it was facing security threats from the air and other levels.

The JSDF paper pointed out that China’s bases construction would enable it to carry out future submarine nuclear deterrence patrol not only in the South China Sea but also in the Western Pacific.

It said China has already built a naval base at Sanya, Hainan island for strategic nuclear submarine operations in the South China Sea.

“Through the acquisition of air and maritime superiority over the South China Sea with new ports and runways in the Spratlys, China would be able to start nuclear patrol by Jin-class SSBNs with JL-2 SLMBs,” the JSDF paper said.

SSBNs are ballistic missile submarines that China has deployed at Sanya, while JL-2 SLMBs are China’s second-generation intercontinental-range submarine-launch ballistic missiles with one to four multiple independent reentry vehicle payload and with a range of 7,500 to 8,000 kilometers.

Once China has total domination of the entire South China Sea, its submarines, taking advantage of the Philippines’ position in the ongoing dispute, can easily gain access toward the Pacific via the Bashi Channel, a body of water that separates Batanes, the northernmost island province of the Philippines.

JAPAN SELF-DEFENSE FORCES MILITARIZATION SOUTH CHINA SEA
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