Xisha deployment pressured by Pentagon

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-4-14 0:18:01

Fox News reported Tuesday that an exclusive satellite image it acquired shows the Chinese military has deployed new fighter jets to Yongxing Island in the South China Sea and has reinforced its advanced surface-to-air missile system on the island. According to the report, the image that has been authenticated by the Pentagon showed two J-11 fighter jets stationed on the island. The J-11 jet, which entered service in 1998, is comparable to the US Airforce's F-15 or Navy F/A-18 Hornet.

Xisha Island has been China's territory since ancient times and is under China's administration now. Yongxing Island is where the Sansha city government is located. Unlike Nansha Island, Xisha has a much simpler situation as China applies its sovereignty effectively there, although Vietnam is making noise with little international impact.

Washington often deliberately confuses Xisha with Nansha Island, trying to paint Xisha as a disputed area. In February, the US pointed fingers at China deploying its HQ-9 missiles on Yongxing Island, blaming China for militarizing the South China Sea.

It's an excessive intervention for Washington to blame China's justified defense deployments on Xisha Island. We would like to ask whether Washington will mind China's action on Hainan Island next? Washington has demonstrated the real standard of militarizing islands. In the Pacific alone, it has built large-scale military bases in Hawaii, Guam and Okinawa.

Washington might want to tell Beijing "Don't have a race with us." However, it is instigating the smaller nations of the South China Sea to compete with China. Washington has remained silent over both Manila's and Hanoi's construction projects on the Nansha islands, but launches strong protests against Beijing, arguing that China is engaging in a much larger-scale land reclamation in the region.

China's military facilities on Yongxing Island pose no strategic deterrence to the US. If it wants, China is capable of deterring the Philippines and Vietnam without deploying such facilities. China has reiterated that its constructions on the Nansha islands are for civilian purposes, which is China's true intention.

However, we feel pressured to strengthen our military presence in Xisha and even Nansha. Such pressure comes from the intensifying intervention from the US, rather than the disputes in the region.

If the images of the missiles and jets prove real, the deployment would have been in response to Washington's high-key provocations. China has no intention to enter into a race with Washington in the South China Sea, let alone a confrontation. The Chinese government will keep its promise not to militarize the Nansha islands. However, the more frequently the US military flexes its muscle here, the more Chinese military facilities will be deployed on the islands. It has nothing to do with China's commitment to peaceful development.

Posted in: Editorial

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