WASHINGTON — The Pentagon now says China tested more than one anti-ship missile this week in the South China Sea, deepening concerns that Beijing has crossed a line where the U.S. and other nations can take counter-measures to peacefully offset the control of the critical shipping lanes.
New reports from the region, verified by Pentagon officials, said China conducted at least six tests of a new anti-ship missile. Some of the tests on Sunday may have been from mainland China while others from one of the contested islands in the South China Sea.
All the test-fired missiles landed in two separate areas in the South China Sea, according to reports.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon confirmed that China test-fired a next-generation anti-ship missile from one of the disputed islands it occupies in the South China Sea.
Further tests are expected, officials said Wednesday. Published reports in Asia suggested the test was to inaugurate a new base of the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force in the region.
China did not confirm the tests but had said it was holding military drills between the Spratly and Paracel Islands starting last weekend and ending on Wednesday. It warned ships and aircraft to avoid the area.
The Philippines government said Thursday that its Department of Foreign Affairs will wait until a military review of Beijing’s reported missile launch before taking any action.
Manila has been reluctant to criticize China on its occupation of the disputed islands, some of which the Philippines claim, despite the proximity of China’s military maneuvers.
For example, in November, Manila declined to comment on China’s announcement that it erected a maritime observation center, a meteorological observatory and a national environmental and air quality monitoring station on some of the disputed islands in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea, according to news reports.