The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, announced this week that China has largely completed construction of military installations on the artificial islands the nation has constructed in the South China Sea.  According to their report, China may begin deploying military equipment and personnel to the islands at any time.

According to AMTIs report on the islands called Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs, China’s completed projects include naval, air, radar and defensive facilities.

Satellite images taken earlier this month clearly showed what appear to be newly installed radar antennae on both Fiery Cross and Subi, prompting Greg Poling, AMTI’s director to state, “So look for deployments in the near future.”

The South China Sea has become a hotly contested region, with opposing claims over the waterway being levied by nearly every nation with a shoreline abutting it.  No nation has been more aggressive over their claims, however, than China.  China’s claims have rapidly grown to engulf larger and larger swaths of the seaway that not only contains ample fishing and natural resources, but is also used to transport up to a third of all global commerce.