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South China Sea: Beijing begins HUGE military upgrade in face-off with ‘provocative’ US

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In order improve the quality of its missions in South China Sea, China has made improvements to some of the equipment used by their world class military. The latest upgrade was spotted at a naval aviation regiment base under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command.

China’s KJ-500 airborne early warning and control system has now been improved ahead of what is expected to be a major clash with the US.

The system now has the addition of a probe that can allow the plane to receive aerial refuelling and boost its range and endurance.

The new airborne allows China to carry out early warning operations, analysts explained on Monday.

The latest upgrade was spotted in a picture recently published by China Military Online, the English webpage of the Chinese military.

Ramping up its endurance means the aircraft will have enhanced combat proficiency as World War 3 fears reach an all time high.

Speaking to the Global Times on Monday, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, said the new airborne also features early warning radar systems that are better than the US’.

But China’s push to improve its military is widely seen as a threat to other countries that have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea, which China claims it has historic right of ownership to almost the entirety of.

DWF’s Head of Transport, Jonathan Moss, has explained that there is a real risk of fresh disputes over the ownership the waters.

Speaking to, Mr Moss said: “I think there’s definitely a risk of all-out conflict.

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“There’s been pockets of conflict before; going back about 20 years there was a naval battle where three Chinese vessels were engaged with the Philippines Navy gunboats. That was in Spratly Islands.

“There’s definitely the risk of isolated incidents and as we know, a string of isolated incidents can lead to major conflict.

“It should be on the radar as a danger.”

Back in July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a formal rebuttal of “most” of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.

His remarks were considered a further escalation of tensions between the US and China, but he described the move as “strengthening US policy”.

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Mr Pompeo said “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”

In a statement he added: “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.

“America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law.

“We stand with the international community in defence of freedom of the seas and respect for sovereignty and reject any push to impose ‘might makes right’ in the South China Sea or the wider region.”

Gregory Poling, a senior fellow for Southeast Asia and director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, classed Mr Pompeo’s words as a “pretty significant” move.

He said: “What the US basically said is that we are going to remain neutral on questions of who owns what island or rock in the South China Sea, but we’re no longer going to keep quiet on China’s illegal claims to the waters.”

Speaking to CNN, he added: “It lets the US very clearly call out China’s activities as illegal, not just destabilising or unhelpful, but to say this is illegal.

“That helps partners like Vietnam and the Philippines, and it’s going to put pressure on other countries – the Europeans, for instance – to get off the fence and say something themselves.”

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