China has deployed a subsonic anti-ship cruise missile in South China Sea’s Woody Island amid heightened tensions in the disputed region, a report said earlier this week, citing recent imagery. Woody Island is a part of the Paracel Islands, and is largely controlled by China, but Taiwan and Vietnam have also laid claims on the islet.
The deployed Chinese anti-ship cruise missile YJ-62 has the capability to target any vessel within nearly 249 miles of the Woody Island. The image of launching YJ-62 was posted last Sunday on Chinese microblogging website Weibo, and it is consistent with photos copied from one of the many monthly Chinese military magazines that appear on Chinese military issue web pages, IHS Jane's 360, a British publishing company that keeps records on military equipment, reported. The YJ-62 launch picture showed a radar dome, indicating that it is on Woody Island, the report added.
According to IHS Jane’s 360, the anti-ship cruise missile was likely deployed at about the same time the China’s HQ-9 surface-to-air missile system was first detected on the island in February. The YJ-62 reportedly arms the Type 052C destroyer launched in 2003.
On Thursday, Shahidan Kassim, Malaysia’s national security minister said about 100 Chinese-registered boats and vessels were detected, intruding into Malaysia's waters near the Luconia Shoals in the South China Sea, state news agency Bernama reported. The minister added that the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the navy assets have been deployed to the area to examine the situation. If the Chinese ships were found to have trespassed into Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone, Kuala Lumpur would take legal action, Shahidan said, according to the news agency.
The South China Sea region has been long contested, with Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam laying claim to various areas. Beijing has been expanding its presence in the disputed area and has built three runways on the Spratly archipelago. However, China has consistently defended its actions, saying it does not have any intentions of starting a conflict and that its aircraft facilities will maintain safety in the region.