"If this activity continues at pace, is that it -- those would give them de facto control" of the maritime territory they claim, Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the U.S. Senate. Locklear said China could install long-range detection radars, base warships and warplanes on the islands, potentially giving it the ability to enforce an air defense identification zone.
Satellite photos this month showed images of Chinese dredgers at work at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, a feature also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan. President Barack Obama said April 10 that the U.S. is concerned that China is using its "muscle and power" to dominate smaller countries in the region.
Locklear said the pace of China's building program was "astonishing" and added that the islands would improve China's ability to locate a maritime security force in the waters that would be larger than the combined coast guards of the Southeast Asian countries…
Locklear said the increasing number and technical sophistication of the submarines in the Indo-Pacific was changing the dynamic of how the U.S. navy operates in the area. He estimated that of the 300 submarines in the world that aren't U.S. vessels, 200 are in the Indo-Pacific, which he said was the "most militarized part of the world.'
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