More Escalation in the South China Sea

China continues to deploy military equipment to disputed islands in the South China Sea, adding long-range radars on the Cuarteron Reef in the Spratly Islands in addition to surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, the largest of the Paracel Islands. Adm. Harry Harris, commander of US Pacific Command, confirmed the deployment Tuesday during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, saying the deployment is an action that has changed “my opinion on the operation of the landscape in the South China Sea.” China also has built a 10,000-foot runway on the Subi Reef, which is also in the Spratly islands, Harris said. “China is clearly militarizing the South China Sea and you’d have to believe in the flat Earth to think otherwise,” said Harris, who noted that China’s deployed radars and missiles could pose threats to US carriers. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the deployment is another step in the escalating tensions in the region. However, the US will continue to “fly, sail, and operate” in the region pursuant to international law, he said.