A U.S. military spokesperson confirmed, Wednesday, that the Pentagon is aware of a “surface-to-air missile system” on a “disputed outpost in the South China Sea.”
Commercial satellite images show missile launchers on Yongxing Island – also known in the West as Woody island. It is part of the Xisha islands also known as the Paracels.
In 1974, China and Vietnam fought over the islands. Vietnam lost, but still claims sovereignty over the islands along with the region of Taiwan. China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, defended the missiles’ presence, calling them “self-defense facilities.”
Beijing: Western media reports of anti-aircraft missiles in South China Sea “nothing but hype”
Washington says, if missiles have been positioned on the island, it would be more evidence that Beijing is militarizing the region.
CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.
Beijing: Western media reports of anti-aircraft missiles in South China Sea "nothing but hype"Washington says, if missiles have been positioned on the island, it would be more evidence that Beijing is militarizing the region.
“China’s move of setting up limited, necessary and self-defense facilities on the islands and reefs where Chinese troops are stationed is in line with the right of self-defense endowed by international law to any sovereign state,” Wang said, “Therefore there is nothing wrong with it.”
“We are concerned that these actions are increasing tensions in the region and are counterproductive,” said U.S. Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesperson.
Washington accuses Beijing of reneging on a pledge Chinese President Xi made during his state visit last September, but President Xi’s pledge only referred to the Nansha Islands, or Spratly’s, a separate island chain.
“Relevant construction activities that China are undertaking in the island of South — Nansha Islands do not target or impact any country, and China does not intend to pursue militarization,” said President Xi Jinping.
Beijing further counters that the U.S. is agitating tensions in the South China Sea by providing millions of dollars in military aid to countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines that have competing claims to islands in the South China Sea.
“Non-militarization serves the interests of all parties, but non-militarization should not target a single country or have double or multiple standards. The non-militarization in the South China Sea needs the joint efforts of the relevant countries inside and outside the region,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Nonetheless, the tension in the region is a matter of great concern to the other countries in the South China Sea. During the U.S.-ASEAN Summit which wrapped up earlier this week in Rancho Mirage, California, Washington tried to pressure 10 South East Asian nations to agree to a joint statement condemning China’s island-building in the South China Sea and supporting freedom of navigation throughout the waterway. While the statement does not mention the South China Sea or island-building, it does add a new commitment by all the parties to “non-militarization.”
The Minister of Information to the Union of Myanmar, Ye Htut, told CCTV America, “non-militarization” is in the statement to express ASEAN’s concerns over recent developments in the South China Sea, “including deployment of missiles.”
Story by CCTV America