China has deployed missiles that target ships and aircraft on three of its South China Sea outposts, according to a U.S. media report that cited intelligence sources.
According to a May 2 report by CNBC, China has quietly beefed up its militarization of its artificial islands in the contested waters, as it deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef, Subi (Zamora) Reef, and Mischief (Panganiban) Reef in the Spratly Islands.
This would, in all probability, allow Beijing to further project its power in the South China Sea.
"We are concerned with the reported China's missile deployments over the contested areas in the West Philippine Sea", Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement.
Asked about the report, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said there would be consequences but not what they would be.
According to sources close to the USA intelligence, the recent missiles were installed by the Chinese military in the last 30 days in the disputed South China Sea.
He explained that the country's moves on the issue come in "phases", with one part anchored on the implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
The South China Sea - which sits between Vietnam, the Philippines, China and several other countries - is subject to a myriad of competing territorial claims.
In April, the Wall Street Journal reported that US officials had confirmed China had installed military radar jamming equipment on the Spratly Islands.
The U.S. will continue with its freedom of navigation operations in the area "and ensure that the Chinese understand that they can not, and should not, be hostile and understand that the Pacific is a place which much commerce goes through", White said.
"China has to realize that they've benefited from the free navigation of the sea".
"The further militarization of outposts will only serve to raise tensions and create greater distrust among claimants", he continued.
House of Representatives member Gary Alejano, meanwhile, said the installation of Chinese missiles only reflected China's ongoing aggression in the sea.
CNBC reported that anti-ship cruise missiles have been identified as YJ-12B missiles which possess a range of 295 nautical miles.
The reefs are located across the disputed Spratly archipelago between the Philippines and Vietnam.
"It has been clear that these were coming since at least past year when China constructed shelters for them at each of the islands, but the actual deployments are still significant", Poling said.
Adding, "The relevant deployment targets no one".
"Those who don't intend to violate have no reason to worry", she added. "We hope that the relevant party could view this matter in an objective and calm way".