A new Pentagon reported released Friday said that China has reclaimed more than 3,200 acres of land in the South China Sea and the country's focus has shifted to developing and weaponinzing the man-made islands. The Defense Department said three of the artificial lands in the Spratly Islands sport 10,000-foot runways and large ports in various stages of construction. China has also excavated deep channels, created and dredged harbors, and constructed communications, logistics and intelligence gathering facilities. The report states that China will enhance its presence in the contested South China Sea with its airfields, ship facilities, surveillance and weapons equipment. And those things don't give the country any new territorial rights.
BEIJING – China has labeled a recent mission by nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bombers over the disputed South China Sea as "provocative." Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said at a monthly briefing Thursday that China would respond with all measures considered necessary to safeguard its rights and interests. Two B-52s flew over the strategic waterway claimed by China earlier this week in what the Pentagon called a routine mission. Asked Wednesday about the flights, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis responded that, "there's nothing out of the ordinary about it." China has sought to strengthen its claim to the South China Sea by building seven islands on reefs and equipping them with military facilities such as airstrips, radar domes and missile systems.
Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, who is on an Asia tour, will have the task of convincing China to "do more" to curb North Korea's weapons programmes, a feat made more difficult by China's displeasure at last week's US anti-missile system deployment in South Korea and President Donald Trump's repeated threats to "fix" the debt of trillions of dollars to the Chinese government. Trump is seeking an additional $54 billion to spend on the US military in the coming year, roughly a 10 percent increase. China has said that it will increase its military spend by 7 percent, the second consecutive year in which its military spending will be under 10 percent. China's upgrading of its forces and projected expansion of its naval fleet have been a cause for concern in the region as Beijing continues to push it's assertive stance in regional disputes. In the past year, there have been several incidents involving the US and China in the South China Sea.