OVER THE SOUTH CHINA SEA (AP) — A top U.S. commander says China has fully militarized at least three of several islands it built in the disputed South China Sea and has armed them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment and fighter jets.
U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. John C. Aquilino says the increasingly aggressive moves threaten all nations operating nearby.
He says that's in stark contrast to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s past assurances that Beijing would not transform the artificial islands into military bases.
The Navy aircraft with Aquilino and AP journalists aboard flew near Chinese-held islands in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago on Sunday.
It dismissed multiple warnings by Chinese callers that it illegally entered what they said was China’s territory.