China continues to expand naval dominance in Spratlys

Jan 8, 2013- MANILA, Philippines - A Chinese amphibious warfare ship has been making its presence felt in the contested Spratly archipelago in a bid by Beijing to continuously expand naval dominance over the region, according to a local official in Kalayaan Island.

A chinese amphibious warfare

Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. took photos of China’s amphibious warship, believed to be laden not only with amphibious landing tanks but also Chinese marines.

The warship is among six combat ships Beijing has reportedly maintained in the region to press its territorial claim over almost the entire West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), some areas of which are also being claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

China has also assembled an array of modern warships in the island province of Hainan and in mainland Guangzhou intended for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) naval operations in the South China Sea.

“The hard fact is that China has been continuously expanding its naval dominance in the region, occupying and developing unoccupied islands in the region. I think they have already occupied three-fourths of the entire Spratlys region,” Bito-onon said in an earlier interview.

In October last year, a Kalayaan Island four-boat convoy was harassed twice by a Chinese amphibious warfare ship while transporting supplies from Palawan to Pag-Asa island, one of the country’s regime of islands and reefs in the region.