Wednesday, February 17, 2016

China Deployed Missiles on Disputed Island, U.S. Says

By MICHAEL FORSYTHE, NYT
FEB. 16, 2016

HONG KONG — The Pentagon has evidence that the Chinese military has deployed surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the South China Sea, a United States official has said.

The deployment escalates regional tensions that have been inflamed by China’s extensive effort to build artificial islands in the South China Sea, bolstering its claim to sovereignty over an area about the size of Argentina, where the Philippines, Vietnam and other nations also claim territory. The United States does not recognize China’s claims, and in recent months, it has sailed warships and flown military aircraft near the Chinese outposts to assert its right to freedom of navigation.

The United States official said the Chinese appeared to have deployed HQ-9 missile batteries on Woody Island in the Paracel chain. China has long had military and civilian infrastructure on the island, which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, in a statement, confirmed on Wednesday that China had placed antiaircraft missiles on the island.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense did not confirm or deny the missile deployment, but it noted that the Chinese Navy and Air Force had deployed forces on the Paracel Islands “for many years.” “The hype by certain Western media outlets is purely them playing the old ‘China threat’ tune,” the ministry said in a faxed statement.

(More here.)

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