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Asian Escalation: Why China Picked Woody Island For Its First South China Sea Missiles

Michael Auslin, Ph.D

By Michael Auslin (original source Forbes)

“Just weeks after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near an island claimed by China in the South China Sea, the U.S. Government announced that Beijing has emplaced advanced surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) on the largest island in the same group. Washington and Asian nations are now decrying Beijing’s militarization of the region’s waters. Yet there is good reason that China picked isolated Woody Island as the first place it deployed such defenses. It is another step in a long campaign to ensure that China develops an unparalleled military position in the vital waters of Southeast Asia.

Woody Island is part of the Paracel Islands group. It lies about 250 miles southeast of Hainan Island, which contains one of China’s main submarine bases. Beijing has controlled Woody Island since 1956, although both Taiwan and Vietnam both claim it.”

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