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Iran Press TV

China accuses US of militarizing South China Sea

Iran Press TV

Sat Feb 20, 2016 7:25AM

China has slammed US military build-up in the South China Sea, saying it is Washington, and not Beijing, which is truly militarizing the disputed waters by conducting patrols there.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday that patrols by US military aircraft and navy vessels as well as its joint military drills with regional partners are behind "escalated tensions" in the South China Sea.

"That's the real militarization of the South China Sea," the Chinese official added.

Lei was reacting to similar accusations by the US and Taiwan against China, which criticized Beijing earlier this week for what is said to be the deployment of surface-to-air missiles to Yongxing Island, known as Woody by China's rivals.

He further reaffirmed China's sovereignty over Yongxin Islands and said, "There should not be double standards or multi-standards for demilitarization in the South China Sea, and the process requires joint efforts from countries in the region and beyond."

On Thursday, US State Department spokesman John Kirby accused China of militarizing the region by placing missiles on Yongxing Island, which is part of the Xisha archipelago, also known as Paracel.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also voiced concern over China's "militarization" of the region.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has warned of regional consequences after reports of the Chinese deployment.

The South China Sea has become a source of tension between China, the US, and some regional countries who are seeking control of trade routes and mineral deposits.

However, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said such reports are fabricated by Western media, and that the deployment of "limited and necessary national defense facilities on China's own territory" does not mean the militarization of the disputed waters.

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi also reacted by saying on Thursday that the "limited self-defense facilities deployed on the islands were the result of China's right to self-defense granted by international law, which has nothing to do with militarization. It is natural and fully legitimate."

The South China Sea has become a source of tension between China, the US, and some regional countries who are seeking control of trade routes and mineral deposits.

The disputed islands are claimed by countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei, which all have overlapping claims with China over the territories in the South China Sea, including the Paracels, Spratly Islands, Pratas Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

Washington and China's rivals have been accusing Beijing of attempting to take advantage of the situation and gradually assert control in the South China Sea.

Beijing, however, rejects the allegations and accuses Washington of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.



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