China Drops Several Bombs on Contested Island in the South China Sea
The Chinese Air Force (CAF) dropped several bombs on various islands and reefs in the disputed South China Sea, the bombing they claimed was part of a military exercise.
“A division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently organized multiple bombers such as the H-6K to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to ‘reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions’,” the statement said on Friday.
The statement did not specify details regarding the exercise’s location.
This occurred several weeks after CNBC reported that China had installed anti-ship defense missiles and air-to-air defenses on outposts in the Spratly Islands, which are also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam.
The Pentagon raised concern over China’s militarization, saying Beijing’s acts would only increase tension in the region, though that may have been their intentions in the first place.
“The United States remains committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Pentagon spokesman Christopher Logan.
The U.S. deployed warships in the disputed area in an effort to counter Beijing’s claims over the contested waters. Besides China, the South China Sea is a territory of disputed ownership between Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, and Vietnam. The area is a vital global shipment route and is believed to contain a significant amount of oil and natural gas.
What are the effects on neighboring countries?
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) highlighted Beijing’s military asset mobilization in three hangars in the Spratly Islands: Subi, Fiery Cross Reefs, and Mischief, known as the “Big Three.” AMTI feared that Beijing’s bombers could easily reach Indonesia and Singapore if they were based on the “Big Three.”
The Defense Ministry of China confirmed in a statement that its warplane carried out an air strike simulation during an air force formation in the South China Sea.
The ministry also released footage showing the bomber Xian H-6K conducting a “touch-and-go” operation in a new runway on an unknown island.
Based on video and photographs, military analyst Mike Yeo suggested that the exercise might have taken place on Woody Island.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issue a tempered response to China’s recent military action in the South China Sea.
“What will we arm ourselves with if there’s a war? Will we resort to slapping each other? I couldn’t even buy myself a rifle. It was given to me. So how will we even fight with the Chinese?” the outspoken leader responded.
In July 2016, an international tribunal in Den Haag decided to hand over several South China Sea regions to Manila, saying that the China-claimed nine-dashed line was baseless.
In early May, Manila presidential spokesperson Harry Rouge stated that Manila would handle the South China Sea dispute diplomatically. The statement came after Beijing deployed missile launchers in three islands in the contested area.