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Iran Press TV

US accuses China of deploying missiles to S. China Sea island

Iran Press TV

Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:1PM

The United States has accused China of deploying surface-to-air missiles on an island in the South China Sea, claiming the deployment has raised tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby claimed on Thursday American satellite imagery showed 'very recent' placement of missiles on Woody Island in the Paracel island chain, and blamed Beijing for militarizing the South China Sea.

'The Chinese have said one thing, and yet appear to be doing another,' Kirby told reporters in Washington, DC

'We see no indication that ... this militarization effort, has stopped. And it's doing nothing ... to make the situation there more stable and more secure. In fact, it's having quite the opposite effect,' he added.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would have 'very serious conversation' with China about what he called militarization of the South China Sea.

Kerry did not confirm American media reports of China's alleged deployment of missiles to Woody Island.

'We have said repeatedly with respect to China that the standard that should be applied to all countries with respect to the South China Sea is no militarization," he noted.

US media outlets had reported that Beijing had deployed surface-to-air missile launchers to Woody Island, citing satellite imagery confirmed by US officials.

"The imagery from ImageSat International (ISI) shows two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers as well as a radar system on Woody Island, part of the Paracel Island chain in the South China Sea," Fox News reported Tuesday.

China has accused the US-led Western media of 'hyping up' reports about the missile deployment and said Beijing had a legitimate right to establish military facilities on territory it views as its own.

"China has been deploying national defense facilities on Xisha Island for decades, it is nothing new," Chinese Global Times paper quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying on Thursday.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

Washington has sided with China's rivals in the territorial dispute, with Beijing accusing the US of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

Earlier this week, US President Barack Obama hosted leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a summit which was aimed to counter what Washington calls China's increasingly assertiveness in the South China Sea.

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