China’s New Islands Are Clearly Military, U.S. Pacific Chief Says

Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, says the vastly expanded reefs now look exactly like combat bases for fighters, bombers, ships, and surveillance.

ASPEN, Colo. – The top U.S. military officer in the Pacific sternly warned China on Friday to immediately cease its “aggressive coercive island building” in the South China Sea, which he argued was intended clearly for China’s military use as forward operating bases in combat against their regional neighbors.

Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said the U.S. would use military force to defend its interests and its allies against any threats from the islands.

“I believe those facilities are clearly military in nature,” Harris said at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering in Colorado of dozens of top U.S. national security leaders, convened by the Aspen Institute.

“They are building ports that are deep enough to host warships and they’re building a 10,000-foot runway at Fiery Cross Reef,” Harris said, referring to one of China’s construction activities in the Spratly Islands that Japan has protested. “A 10,000-foot runaway [sic] is large enough to take a B-52, almost large enough for the Space Shuttle, and 3,000 feet longer than you need to take off a 747. So, there’s no small airplane that requires a runway of that length. They’re building revetted aircraft hangars at some of the facilities there that are clearly designed, in my view, to host tactical fighter aircraft.”

Harris also said he is concerned the islands could be used as a chain of Chinese listening posts. “Certainly, those islands, which are well out in the South China Sea, extends a surveillance network that could be in place with radars, electronic warfare capabilities and the like.” If that happens, he said, American warships could strike them in combat.

“I think those islands, given the capabilities we have, are clearly and easily targets in any combat scenario with China. But they’re also easily seen as forward operating posts.”

Full article: China’s New Islands Are Clearly Military, U.S. Pacific Chief Says (Defense One)

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