If personnel threatened 'we necessarily will take measures to boost defensive capabilities', naval officer warns.
The country reserved the right to do as it pleased on the islands it has created in the strategically vital waterway, which it claims virtually in its entirety, according to Senior Captain Zhang Junshe, a naval academy researcher.
”If our on-island personnel and installations come under threat in future, then we necessarily will take measures to boost our defensive capabilities," he said during a briefing with journalists.
The US believes president Xi Jinping has broken a 2015 promise not to expand development in the South China Sea, where Beijing has piled sand and cement on coral reefs to create seven islands, some with airfields and other fortifications.
Both US Navy and Royal Navy vessels have sailed close to these installations to assert international freedom-of-navigation rights in the busy trading route. China says its developments serve primarily civilian purposes.
At the same briefing, military scientist Lieutenant General He Lei said the People’s Liberation Army would not rule out establishing additional overseas land bases to serve its United Nations peacekeeping missions if necessary – and if host nations approve.
While China cannot yet match the US militarily it has nonetheless displayed “advancements in conventional and asymmetric, especially cyber and AI, technology” in recent years and particularly under Mr Xi, experts have previously told The Independent.
“China cannot realistically catch up in the near to medium term with the US military in either a qualitative or quantitative sense [because] it does not have the economy or skills to do so,” Dr Nicola Leveringhaus, a war studies lecturer at King’s College London, said in an interview last year.
They also called for greater military investment.
Additional reporting by AP
Source : https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/south-china-sea-us-military-bases-islands-spratly-paracel-us-tension-defence-a8719556.html