China deploys cruise missiles in Spratly islands

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The Chinese claims in the South China Sea, as well as the East China Sea, are countered by Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and Japan.

China secretly established the anti-ship missiles and anti-aircraft missiles on disputed Islands in the South China sea, reports CNBC, citing sources in USA intelligence.

China's Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest report. "The relevant parties should not be concerned about this and should view this in an objective way", she was quoted as saying further. Located between Vietnam and the Philippines, the natural resources and trade routes that pass through the Spratly Islands are a lucrative venture for the countries - around $3.4 trillion in trade is reportedly transported through the South China Sea every year.

The Chinese army installed anti-ship and air-to-air defenses on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines over the last 30 days, USA network CNBC reported Wednesday, citing sources close to U.S. intelligence.

The TV channel notes that the installed systems can hit the court at a distance of 295 nautical miles (546 km) and air targets at a distance of 160 nautical miles (296 km).

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Bonnie Glaser, the head of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank said that it's unclear for her, why Beijing chose such timing for the deployment.

In addition to land-reclamation efforts on reefs it controls and building civilian facilities there, China also has air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry in place including landing strips able to accommodate military planes. Defending its deployment of anti-ship cruise missiles, Beijing has said that China's activities in the region are aimed at upholding its sovereignty.

Davidson said China could use the bases pose a challenge the United States and "would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants".

Last month, US Navy Adm. Philip Davidson, nominated to lead the US' Pacific Command, said Beijing's "forward operating bases" in the South China Sea appeared complete.