South China Sea news: Beijing bases’ WEAK points may make them ‘impossible to defend’ | World | News

China’s aggression in Asia is causing concern around the world. Beijing has threatened Taiwan in recent weeks, and also continues to militaries the South China Sea. In fact, an Australia Defence Department-commissioned study released this week has looked at how damaging a war in the region could be. It found that 90 percent of Australia’s fuel imports would be lost in a war scenario. But experts have been studying the military situation in the South China Sea for years, and warn that China’s bases there have some big weaknesses.

For years the Chinese military has built huge bases on islands in the region equipped with military hardware and placed in advantageous locations.

This has come despite other Asian countries being furious with the developments.

But Naval and Merchant Ships, a Beijing-based magazine published by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, which supplies the Chinese military, admitted in 2020 that the island bases have weaknesses.

In its report, it said: “Islands and reefs in the South China Sea have unique advantages in safeguarding national sovereignty and maintaining a military presence in the open sea, but they have natural weaknesses with regard to their own military defence.”

It also added that the bases would have “very limited” anti-strike capabilities.

The report continued: “Island shelters lack vegetation, natural rock and soil and other coverings, and the altitude is low, while the groundwater level is high.

“Personnel and resources cannot be stored underground for a long time.”

Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst in defence strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, also told CNN at the time that nature could also be against China as it ramps up its military developments in the disputed region.

He said at the time: “The harsh environmental conditions in the South China Sea – salt water corrosion, poor weather – make it almost impossible to deploy anything on the islands in a manner that could allow them to defend these bases.

“What the Chinese are trying to do is annex an international maritime space, to control and own international waters, and to do that they need to have a permanent presence there.

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“But it is becoming evident that while they may have been enough to make the territorial claim, they’re actually not a practical step in the long term because they can’t actually defend those bases.”

This analysis from 2020 hasn’t deterred China, however.

In March this year, a top US military claimed that China had now fully militarised three islands in the South China Sea.

Admiral John C Aquilino added the bases were armed with fighter jets, anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, and laser jamming equipment.

He told Associated Press: “Over the past 20 years we’ve witnessed the largest military buildup since world war two by the PRC.

“They have advanced all their capabilities and that buildup of weaponisation is destabilising to the region.”

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In recent years, the US has used naval patrols in the region to try and deter China from further aggression.

In July, A US Navy warship challenged Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea as USS Benfold sailed near the Spratly Islands.

This angered China, as seen by comments made by People’s Liberaton Army (PLA) Air Force Colonel Tian Junli.

He said in a statement: “The actions of the US military have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, seriously undermined the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and seriously violated international law and norms of international relations.”

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