What China’s SAMs in the South China Sea Mean for Vietnam?, by Nam Nguyen (a graduate from University of NSW,an AusCham Member), 24 February 2016.

An edited extract of the original article is reproduced below.

Only “boots on the ground” will secure Vietnam’s national interests in the South China Sea.

International attention has once again closed in on the South China Sea over claims that China has deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missile batteries to Woody Island. Reports suggest that U.S. intelligence sources have confirmed the presence of these mobile batteries, whereas satellite images of Woody Island earlier this month showed no such batteries. China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has downplayed concerns over these claims by suggesting that China only has limited self-defense capabilities on some of its islands. Also, late last year Chinese President Xi Jinping reassured the international community that China did not intend to militarize its islands in the South China Sea.

These statements, of course, do not reassure China’s neighbors. The fourth-generation of HQ-9 mobile missile batteries are reported to have a range of over 125 kilometers. This would complicate military aviation operations by claimant states and other nations operating in the region, such as the United States or Australia. What this means is that Chinese forces now have an increased stand-off capability, potentially giving them the capability edge in maneuverability and intelligence gathering, further solidifying their position on Woody Island. It would not be unreasonable to infer that similar installations will soon appear across other Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea…

 

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