BEIJING (Reuters) – China outlined a strategy to boost its naval reach on Tuesday and held a groundbreaking ceremony for two lighthouses in disputed waters, developments likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing’s maritime ambitions.
In a policy document issued by the State Council, the Communist-ruled country’s cabinet, China vowed to increase its “open seas protection”, switching from air defense to both offense and defense, and criticized neighbors who take “provocative actions” on its reefs and islands.
China has been taking an increasingly assertive posture over recent years in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where it has engaged in extensive land reclamation in the Spratly archipelago.
China claims most of the South China Sea and criticized Washington last week after a U.S. spy plane flew over areas near the reefs. Both sides accused each other of stoking instability.
OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
It said China’s air force would shift its focus from territorial air defense to both offense and defense, and building airspace defenses with stronger military capabilities.
“The reefs are located near an important commercial shipping route, so there will be continued development to maintain the security of those shipping lanes,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
The People’s Liberation Army’s nuclear force, known as the Second Artillery Corps, would also strengthen its capabilities for deterrence and nuclear counterattack as well as medium- and long-range precision strikes, the paper said.
“China faces many complex maritime security threats and challenges and requires a navy that can carry out multifaceted missions and protect its sovereignty,” Wang Jin, a senior colonel, told reporters.
The paper also cited “grave threats” to China’s cyber infrastructure, adding that China would hasten development of a cyber military force.
Full article: China to Extend Military Reach, Build Lighthouses in Disputed Waters (Washington Free Beacon)