“Vietnam has fortified several islands it controls”

Vietnam has fortified several islands it controls in the South China Sea with mobile rocket launchers able to strike Chinese military bases in the region, one of the most assertive moves in decades. Diplomats and military officers told Reuters Hanoi had shipped the launchers from the Vietnamese mainland into positions on five bases in the Spratly islands in recent months. They said the launchers could be made operational, if needed, with rocket artillery rounds within two or three days. The Guardian was unable to verify the report, which cited unnamed western officials, and Vietnam’s foreign ministry said the information was inaccurate. Yet the report entrenches fears of militarisation and potential conflicts in the South China Sea, the most contentious issue in east Asia. Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan have overlapping claims with China to islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea. The region is thought to have significant oil and gas reserves and is a route for roughly £3.17tn in trade”.

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