The security temperature in the South China Sea has ratcheted upward precipitously in recent weeks. On May 2, news outlet CNBC reported U.S. intelligence that China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on three fortified outposts in the Spratly Islands.

This deployment follows the installation in April of jamming equipment that disrupts military communications and radar systems — also on outposts in the Spratlys.

This continued militarization of South China Sea features that Beijing controls comes on the back of extensive land reclamation activities — to the tune of 1,295 hectares of land — since 2013; the contravention of a 2015 verbal agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama not to militarize Chinese-occupied features; and Beijing's blatant rejection of the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling in 2016 in favor of the Philippines.