NY Times It is also asking Washington for hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding to strengthen its own military, one of the weakest in Asia. By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZ
'The change of heart is just one sign of the shifting strategic
calculations in the region as President Xi Jinping of China has sought
to reinforce Beijing’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea by
turning reefs into islands and putting military facilities on them.
Satellite photos taken last week appear to show China preparing to build
a third airstrip on one of the new islands.
States officials have objected to the buildup in contested waters, and
the dispute is expected to be high on the agenda when Mr. Xi meets
President Obama in Washington on Thursday. Even as China has accelerated
construction, though, the Obama administration has struggled to
coordinate a response in Asia, where many leaders are not sure how hard
they should push back against China, the region’s economic giant, and
how much they should rely on the United States, its dominant military
nations lay claim to parts of the South China Sea, through which pass
some of the world’s busiest shipping routes and which is believed to
hold significant oil
and natural gas deposits. But China’s push to establish the sea as its
own has hit closer to home in the Philippines than almost anywhere else.'