BEIJING — Satellite images released by U.S. thinktank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) reveal that China may have installed anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on all seven artificial islands that it has built in the South China Sea.
According to AMTI, China appears to have militarized Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, Cuarteron, Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the South China Sea.
This discovery is significant as during a state visit to the U.S. last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly stated that China had no intention of militarizing the islands.
Gaven Reef and Hughes Reef have similar point-defence structures, with suspected anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapon systems installed. The structures of the facilities are different on Johnson and Cuarteron reefs.
At Fiery Cross Reef, all four structures are positioned toward the sea. This allows the anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapon systems to cover all approaches to the base, according to the report by AMTI.
Similar designs are being observed at Mischief Reef, where two of four structures have been completed, while only one of four structures have been completed at Subi Reef.