South China Sea: Satellite images appear to show weapons systems on artificial islands
Vietnam has fortified several islands with rocket artillery launchers capable of striking China's holdings across the region, and it has also begun dredging work on the disputed 'Ladd Reef' (yet curiously this fact has NOT been reported in the media which gives us the impression of 'unilateral Chinese aggression' ad-nasuem).
China has in fact come late to the island building game, BUT China's efforts have been on a scale never before seen in the region.
China has added more than 3,20 acres (1,300 hectares) of land on seven different features in the South China Sea - and built runways, ports, aircraft hangers and communications facilities according to U.S estimates from satellite imagery.
The Unites States had virtually NO response to the previous building done by Vietnam and the Philippines OR ANY OTHER NATION in the South China Sea, but has vigorously OPPOSED all China's efforts....and the USA has stated "It will use it's aircraft and naval vessels to 'assert freedom' of navigation in the region' as demonstrated by by the 2015 passage of the USS Forth Worth Combat ship, and the flight by a U.S navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft OVER the Chinese construction at Fiery Reef.
Beyond 'freedom of navigation' missions, the United States is focused on strengthening regional allies. To do so it will help boost it's allies intelligence gathering (against China) and surveillance capabilities (against China), and provide them with updated military hardware to counter China's technical advantages in both quantity and quality.