Source: Want China Times (Taiwan)
The capital of Sansha is also located on Woody island. (Photo/Xinhua)
By extending the runway of its air field on Woody island, the largest of the Paracel islands, Sansha will become the main Chinese military base in the dispute over the South China Sea, reports by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television.
A report from India’s Institute for Defense Studies stated that Woody island plays a crucial role to the People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea in a similar manner to the Diego Garcia, located in the Indian Ocean, does to US forces. Constructing an air field on the disputed Woody islands serves China’s national interests in three ways. First, the influence of the People’s Liberation Army will finally expand to Southeast Asia. Second, China will be able to claim its sovereignty over the South China Sea with actual military action. Third, it gives China the potential to challenge the power of the United States in the region.
Taking off from the air base at Woody island, bombers like the JH-7 and fighters like the Su-30MKK of the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force would be in range to attack any targets spanning the South China Sea. With the helps of air refueling aircrafts, those aircrafts would even be able to strike US bases at Guam, Australia and Diego Garcia. After consolidating the ports at the Woody islands, larger naval vessels such as destroyers and frigates may be deployed there as well. The presence of a military base in the South China Sea will definitely change the geopolitics of the Asia Pacific Region.
Even though the Sansha garrison of the People’s Liberation Army with Woody island as its main base is now considered a great threat to the US and its allies in the South China Sea, it is impossible for them to conduct any action to stop the Chinese from fortifying it by risking a war with China. With this strategic advantage, China is able to contain the US policy of “Asia Pivot.”