Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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South China Sea Dispute: Chinese Military Bases Growing; Australia Backs U.S. on Freedom of Navigation

South China Sea Dispute

(Photo : U.S. Navy/Newsmakers) An U.S. Navy EP-3 surveillance plane, currently operating out of Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan, was involved in a midair collision April 1, 2001 with fighter aircraft from the Republic of China.

Amid the increasing issues relative to the South China Sea dispute among several countries, it was noted that there has been a growing presence of Chinese military bases in the area.

A Pentagon report on Friday revealed that China has been rebuilding its military outposts in the islands as proven by the satellite images, according to CNN.

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Deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia Abraham Denmark said that "China continues to invest in military programs and weapons designed to improve power projection, anti-access area denial and operations in emerging domains such as cyberspace, space and the electromagnetic spectrum."

It was noted that in two years' time, the country has been able to grow the seven sites it occupies in the disputed South China Sea by more than 3,200 acres.

As disclosed by the Pentagon's annual China Military Power report, China has been improving its access towards its outposts by excavating deep channels.

Despite the United States saying that under the international law, the artificial islands built by the Communist country does not provide it "with any additional territorial or maritime rights within the South China Sea," the Pentagon claimed that it is still making significant enhancement to its "long-term presence" in the disputed group of islands.

"China's military modernization program entered a new phase in 2015," Denmark shared. "China's leaders seem committed to sustaining defense spending growth for the foreseeable future."

In the meantime, the Business Insider reported that the Australian government is backing the US regarding its commitment on freedom of navigation.

"We ... talked about security issues in our region and confirmed our strong commitment to freedom of navigation throughout the region and the importance of any territorial disputes being resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law," Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated.

The South China Sea dispute involves several countries, including the Philippines.

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