Bangkok Post on February 22 ran an editorial, pointing out that "ASEAN must tackle China" as "China continues to push its presence in the South China Sea (East Sea – VET) in unnecessarily provocative ways."
Reffering to what it described as “evidence of a new escalation”, the paper said “satellite photos show Chinese troops finishing the installation of missiles in the Paracel (Hoang Sa – VET) Islands, one of the region's flashpoints. China confirmed the fresh military build-up, and then tried to justify it.”
The paper further stated that “the Chinese missiles have been installed on the refurbished Woody (Phu Lam – VET) Island. For the past year or so, China has been involved in a feverish campaign to enlarge and improve several shoals and tiny islands in both the Paracels and the Spratlys (Truong Sa – VET). Some of these have been expanded to many times the size of airports. Runways, buildings, living quarters and, of course, barracks have gone up almost as fast as diplomatic and military tension around the Spratlys.”
“China lays claim to the entire Paracels group, which it calls the Xisha Islands. The Paracels also are claimed by Vietnam, and in fact were captured in a Chinese navy invasion from Vietnamese soldiers and fishermen in 1974,” Bangkok Post noted.
The paper quoted experts as saying that the batteries included surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, and stated “that would indicate a clear intention to threaten or deter ships and planes from going anywhere near the disputed area.”
“The continued Asean weakness is an impediment at a time when China is expanding its presence and the US is focussing more on Southeast Asia. The South China Sea is of direct concern to all in the region, and it's clear that Asean must face China with strong, diplomatic options. The alternative is chaos and violence,” the paper concluded.