Chinese leaders have flatly rejected Secretary of Defense James Mattis's attempt to persuade them to relent on their transformation of once-uninhabitable reefs in the South China Sea into militarized islands now bristling with long-range anti-ship missiles, jamming equipment, and strategic bombers.
According to Admiral Philip Davidson, the chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, these outposts give China control over virtually all South China Sea shipping in every scenario but one: Direct conflict with the United States.
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