China claims South China Sea defences ‘absolutely necessary’

China’s defences in the South China Sea are “absolutely necessary”,Beijing said Thursday, as it accused the US of militarising the region.The defence ministry spoke out as tensions rose between the two powersover reports that Beijing has deployed surface-to-air missiles, fighterjets, and radar installations in the contested region.“The US is truly the one pushing militarisation in the South China Sea,”said ministry spokesman Wu Qian at a regular monthly briefing.“China’s building of defence facilities on the South China Sea islands andreefs is absolutely necessary.”Beijing claims almost the whole of the South China Sea — through which athird of the world’s oil passes — while several other littoral states havecompeting claims, as does Taiwan.“It is China’s legitimate right to deploy defence facilities within itsown territory — no matter whether that deployment was in the past or atthe present, no matter whether for a temporary or long-term basis, and nomatter what kind of equipment has been deployed.”A US official told AFP that Beijing has deployed surface-to-air missileson Woody Island in the disputed Paracels chain — apparently HQ-9s, whichhave a range of about 200 kilometres (125 miles).Citing two unnamed US officials, American broadcaster Fox News saidTuesday that US intelligence services had spotted Chinese Shenyang J-11and Xian JH-7 warplanes on the same island.Reports also surfaced this week of probable radar installations on reefsin the nearby Spratly islands that would “exponentially improve” thecountry’s monitoring capacities.The United States has in recent months sent warships to sail within 12nautical miles — the usual territorial limit around natural land — of adisputed island and reef transformed into an artificial island in what itsays is a defence of the right to free passage.Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on Thursday concluded a visit to the USfor talks with US secretary of state John Kerry, who told reporters lastweek: “There is every evidence, every day, that there has been an increaseof militarisation of one kind or another. It’s of a serious concern.”

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.