(Yomiuri: February 18, 2016 – p. 7)
By Tetsuo Kotani, senior research fellow, Japan Institute of International Affairs
If it is true that China has deployed ground-to-air missiles on Woody Island in the Paracels, this was an action directed toward the U.S. rather than Vietnam or Taiwan, with which it has disputes over the sovereignty of these islands.
A U.S. Aegis ship passed by the Paracels in “operation freedom of navigation” last month. China’s action can be regarded as a response to this.
The new HQ-9 missiles that were reportedly deployed are very powerful, so they will pose a threat to aircraft in nearby skies. There are reports that fighters have also been deployed on Woody Island. China probably intends to deploy ground-to-air missiles and other military hardware on the artificial islands in the Spratlys as well or set up an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea.
Apparently, the missiles were deployed on Woody Island in early February. This might have been timed to coincide with the U.S.-ASEAN Summit on Feb. 15-16.
China will probably aim for air supremacy over the South China Sea by deploying missiles to pressure the U.S.