By Patricia Lourdes Viray
MANILA, Philippines — Beijing has used its growing power to assert its sovereignty claims over features in the East and South China Seas, the US Department of Defense said in its 2017 China Military Power Report.
"China has used coercive tactics, such as the use of law enforcement vessels and its maritime militia, to enforce maritime claims and advance its interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict," the report read.
The Pentagon reported that for the past year, China continued construction of its military outposts in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea, part of which the Philippines claims as the West Philippine Sea.
China can now deploy military asserts to the Spratly Islands as it is nearly finished with the construction of infrastructures on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs.
The report also noted that Beijing was able to land civilian aircraft on its airfields on the "Big Three" artificial islands.
The Pentagon took note of the July 2016 of an arbitral tribunal ruling which invalidated China's nine-dash line claim in the disputed waters, which Beijing rejected.
Read the full story at PhilStar