China has increased its military presence in the South China Sea by deploying anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles in the South China Sea on 3 outposts. The move is a significant step as it will be the first missile installation by China in the Spratly Islands where many Asian nations have rival claims.
China has made no official statement and has maintained that all the military facilities in Spratly islands are completely defensive. Global experts have stated that the deployments were expected as China had built missile shelters on the reefs in 2017 and had installed similar missiles on Woody Island towards North. The move will mark a significant step on road to China’s domination of South China Sea. All the countries which have laid claims over the islands will now be technically operating within the Chinese missile range which is a strong deterrent.
The HQ-9B surface-to-air long-range cruise missile allows China to target aircraft, drones and even cruise missiles which fall within 160 nautical miles. International experts have also expressed that China only lacks direct deployment of forces in the area which if done will increase Chinese influence deep into Oceania. The bases could also pose a significant deterrent to US presence in the area.