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IPFS News Link • China

China Has Fully Militarized 3 South China Sea Islands: US Indo-Pacific Commander

•, By Frank Fang

"I think over the past 20 years, we've witnessed the largest military buildup since World War II by the PRC [People's Republic of China]," Aquilino told The Associated Press. "They have advanced all their capabilities and that buildup of weaponization is destabilizing to the region."

China has equipped Mischief Reef, Subi Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment, and aircraft hangers, Aquilino said. The missile systems could easily target any civilian and military planes flying over the disputed waters, he added.

"So that's the threat that exists, that's why it's so concerning for the militarization of these islands," Aquilino said. "They threaten all nations who operate in the vicinity and all the international sea and airspace."

Currently, Aquilino said his mission is to "prevent war" through deterrence and promote peace and stability, in efforts that include working with U.S. allies and partners.

"Should deterrence fail, my second mission is to be prepared to fight and win," Aquilino said.

As commander of U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific, Aquilino oversees the largest combatant command, including 380,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, guardians, Coast Guardsmen, and civilians working for the Pentagon.

China's ruling communist regime is currently locking horns with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan in a territorial dispute over reefs, islands, and atolls in the South China Sea.

While the United States isn't a claimant to the disputed islands, it has deployed warships through the region in what it calls freedom of navigation missions.