Palace concerned on China's reported missile deployment in WPS

Once that happened, he assessed that China would be able to use the bases to challenge the United States' presence in the region, and concluded that China could use the bases to overwhelm any of its neighbors in the South China Sea, and control the region in all scenarios short of war with the United States.

The United States has warned China there will be "consequences" over its militarisation of disputed islands in the South China Sea amid reports it has moved missiles there.

China reportedly had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three manmade outposts in the South China Sea.

The warning came after US intelligence assessed that there is a high probability that the Chinese military had deployed anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to three of China's artificial islands during recent military drills on the contested sea. It cited sources with direct knowledge of US intelligence. "We've raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this and there will be near-term and long-term consequences".

"The AFP can not deny the fact that the deployment of Chinese cruise missiles capable of hitting Palawan island is the single biggest threat to national security in recent decades", said De Lima.

According to a report in CNBC, which quoting a source with knowledge of USA intelligence reports, the Chinese military had deployed the weapons systems to islands east of the Philippines on Thursday.

China's defense ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

China has made no mention of any missile deployments but says its military facilities in the Spratlys are purely defensive.

In a daily press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that her nation has been involved in peaceful construction in the islands, which includes "the deployment of necessary national defense facilities".

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A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said USA intelligence had seen some signs that China had moved some weapons systems to its artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago in the past month or so, but offered no details.

This photo taken in April 2018 shows China's sole operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (front), sailing with other ships during a drill at sea.

"Be that as it may, we would explore all diplomatic means to address this issue", he added.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian Government would be "concerned" if the reports were accurate.

President Xi Jinping's 2015 statement on militarizing the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea has often been mischaracterized as a pledge or promise, when his language - that China did not "intend" to militarize the features it occupied - was diplomatically ambiguous enough to leave room for the option later.

CNBC said the YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles allowed China to strike vessels within 295 nautical miles.

Gregory Poling, Center for Strategic and International Studies fellow and director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative told CNBC, "This should be seen as China crossing an important threshold". It said the HQ-9B long-range, surface-to-air missiles could target aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles.

"Before this, if you were one of the other claimants. you knew that China was monitoring your every move".

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