The conflict over South China Sea seems to intensify, as both China and the US are not going to yield, but rather build up their military presence in the region.
While the US calls China's expansion in the Spratly archipelago as "sand castles", cement plants, air strips, and soon-to-be lighthouses appear on the islands.
China boldly asserts its territorial claims on what are heavily-contested waters through which trillions in seaborne freight pass each year.
Now, Beijing sets to enforce what is effectively a no-fly zone over its new sovereign 'territory'.
Also read: China says war "inevitable" with US
China's promise to beef up its naval capabilities to prevent further "meddling" and "provocative actions" by rivals in the South China Sea is a daunting prospect for most of its neighbors, which already view Beijing's fast-improving armed forces with trepidation.
And the Chinese military capabilities seem to be highly competitive.
China disposes 73 destroyers, 58 submarines and 2,100 bomber aircrafts against 47, 16 and 353 those of Japan respectively. The US carrier strike group possesses 9 destroyers, 54 bomber aircrafts and allegedly 2 submarines. Vietnam, however, also disposes 217 bomber aircrafts in the region.
As a recent Pentagon review of China's military modernization drive noted, "China is investing in capabilities designed to defeat adversary power projection and counter third-party-including U.S.-intervention during a crisis or conflict."
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