Two motorized artillery vehicles had been detected on one of the Chinese-made artificial islands on Friday, underscoring ongoing issues that Beijing may use its land reclamation initiatives for military purposes.
The discovery was made just a couple of weeks ago by U.S. intelligence near the Spratly Islands.
The revelation comes as Defense Secretary Ash Carter begins an 11-day trip, including a couple of stops within Asia.
US officials have been watching the sudden increase in land reclamation by China, which is estimated to have created more than 2,000 acres of artificial surface area in the South China Sea.
The United States has been flying surveillance aircraft in the area, prompting China to file a protest after a US Navy P-8A Poseidon flew over one of the artificial islands.
Carter on Wednesday made it clear that the United States will “fly, sail and operate anyplace overseas legislation allows for.” but so far he has noted little about what the U.S. is inclined to do to get China to stop the island construction
US and other regional officers have expressed concerns in regards to the island-construction suggesting that it may be a prelude to navigation restrictions or the enforcement of a new air protection identification zone over the South China Sea. China declared this kind of zone over disputed japanese-held islands within the East China Sea in 2013.
Carter has been vocal about US opposition to the China construction and on Friday afternoon flew over the crowded Straits of Malacca and Singapore, partly to emphasise the need for continued freedom of navigation in the place.
On board two V-22 Ospreys, Carter and his personnel and a number of participants of the media flew over the slim transport lanes, which have been packed with huge container ships and different vessels.
The busy waterway is “a very remarkable instance of the hyperlink between safety and prosperity and the magnitude of getting safety and balance in the Pacific,” spoke of Kelly Magsamen, the Pentagon’s precept deputy assistant secretary for Asia Pacific matters.
The Malacca Strait is 550 miles lengthy, but simply 1.7 miles extensive at its narrowest point. About a 3rd of world shipping moves through the strait — or about 50,000 ships a yr. Any accidental or deliberate blockage of the strait would force ships to change to more costly routes.