For a man who stood at the White House in September 2015 and promised not to militarize the South China Sea, Xi Jinping is sure doing a lot of militarizing. Satellite photos released Thursday indicate China has deployed powerful antiaircraft and antimissile systems to all seven of its new artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago, along shipping lanes that carry $5 trillion in trade a year. This is a “massive military complex,” as Donald Trump noted recently, and it’s worth detailing how massive.
Three years ago these were only specks of land, some submerged at high tide, but China has since built 3,000 acres of territory. (The flight deck of the newest U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, is only 4.5 acres.) This is more space, with more potential military value, than China would need simply to face down its smaller neighbors—suggesting that, as U.S. Navy Commander Thomas Shugart wrote recently, “China perhaps has a larger foe in mind.”
Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.