China has installed rocket launchers
on a disputed reef in the South China Sea+ to ward off Vietnamese military
combat divers, according to a state-run newspaper, offering new details on
China's ongoing military build-up.
China has said military construction on the islands it controls in the
South China Sea will be limited to necessary defensive requirements, and that
it can do what it likes on its own territory+.
The United States has criticized what it has called China's militarization
of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting
periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.
The state-run Defense Times newspaper, in a recent report on its WeChat
account, said Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems
with the capability to discover, identify and attack enemy combat divers had
been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.
Fiery Cross Reef is administered by China but also claimed by the
Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
The report did not say when the defense system was installed, but said it
was part of a response that began in May 2014, when Vietnamese divers installed
large numbers of fishing nets in the Paracel Islands.
China has conducted extensive land reclamation work at Fiery Cross Reef,
including building an airport, one of several Chinese-controlled features in
the South China Sea where China has carried out such work.
More than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped through the South China Sea
every year. Besides China's territorial claims in the area, Vietnam, Malaysia,
Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.