Beijing had vowed not to place any arms on the controversial Spratly Islands as part of a 2015 election pledge. But an unearthed report from the US’ military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China found that Beijing had broken that pledge after it began arming the island in 2018. The document, published two years ago, was originally sent to Congress.
And within it, the analysis found that China had previously claimed it “did not intend to pursue militarisation”.
However, officials later found in 2018 that China had in fact begun arming the island in the South China Sea.
The report said: “China seeks to secure its objectives without jeopardising the regional stability that remains critical to the economic development that has helped it maintain its monopoly on power.”
The document outlined how China’s leaders were said to employ tactics short of armed conflict, in a bid to pursue its strategic objectives in staking its claim on the disputed waters.
The tactics, according to the US, fell short of provoking an armed conflict with Washington, or any of its allies or partners.
The report added: “These tactics are particularly evident in China’s pursuit of its territorial and maritime claims in the South and East China Seas as well as along its borders with India and Bhutan.
“In 2018, China continued militarisation in the South China Sea by placing anti-ship cruise missiles and long-range surface-to-air missiles on outposts in the Spratly Islands, violating a 2015 pledge by Chinese President Xi Jinping that China does not intend to pursue militarisation of the Spratly Islands.
“China is also willing to employ coercive measures – both military and non-military – to advance its interests and mitigate opposition from other countries.”
It comes as growing tensions over the waters have seen Asia as a continent continue to fracture.
Last month, the Philippines’ former foreign affairs chief Albert del Rosario issued a chilling warning to Beijing, claiming that his country should be wary of China’s threat and that of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Rosario said: “These recent events in the South China Sea remind us Filipinos to be eternally vigilant in the defence of our country’s territory and sovereign rights even as we confront a very grave threat as COVID-19.
“As we struggle against a pandemic that poses a real threat to our lives, we must not also risk losing our national patrimony upheld by international law and meant for present and future generations of Filipinos.”