China 'breaks pledge' on military bases in South China Sea

President Xi Jinping said in 2015 it had "no intention" to militarise the region


China has broken its pledge after militarising at least three bases in the South China Sea.

The US Indo-Pacific commander, Admiral John Aquilino said the bases in the Spratly Islands archipelago more than 1,000 miles from the Chinese coast contain anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles as well as fighter aircraft.

Speaking about the Spratly Islands back in 2015, President Xi Jinping said: “Relevant construction activity that China is undertaking does not target or impact any country and there is no intention to militarise.”

XI Jinping
XI Jinping
Admiral John Aquilino
Admiral John Aquilino

After Xi seemingly went back on his previous comments, Mr Aquilino has hit out at China for going against its pledge not to militarise the reef islands.

Mr Aquilino added: “The function of those islands is to expand the offensive capability of the People’s Republic of China beyond their continental shores.

“They can fly fighters, bombers, plus all those offensive capabilities of missile systems.

“That’s the threat that exists, that’s why it’s so concerning for the militarisation of these islands. They threaten all nations who operate in the vicinity and all the international sea and airspace.”

China currently has sovereignty of all islands and reefs in the South China Sea, with the US rejecting their sovereignty claims as unlawful.

It has since warned Beijing on a number of occasions against threatening nations that use the route as a trading avenue.