TV channel United States claims that Armed Forces of China have installed defensive weapons in areas claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, citing intelligence sources.
China reiterated its right to build “defence” facilities in the disputed South China Sea, although it did not confirm information about the installation of new missiles on artificial islands in the region.
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Washington warned that Beijing could face “consequences” not specified by its militarization of the South China Sea, and said it would address this issue with the Asian country.
The CNBC television channel said that the Chinese Armed Forces would have installed defensive anti-ship and land-air weapons in the last month in outposts claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines, citing sources close to US intelligence.
If this information is confirmed, it could provoke new tensions among the littoral countries of this vast maritime region.
The spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, questioned on Thursday, did not confirm or deny the deployment.
“The peaceful constructions of China in the Spratly archipelago, including the necessary deployment of defence facilities in the national territory, are aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty and security, ” said Hua Chunying.
“Those who do not intend to violate (this sovereignty) have no reason to worry,” he added at a press conference.
China claims for historical reasons numerous islands and reefs of the South China Sea. Neighbouring countries (Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei) have competing claims.
Beijing supports its claims to sovereignty by expanding and reinforcing the islets and reefs it controls. It builds civil facilities there as well as airstrips to allow military planes to land.
The Chinese missiles would have been deployed on the reefs of Yongshu (Fiery Cross), Zhubi (Subi) and Meiji (Mischief), according to CNBC. They are all located in the Spratlys archipelago, which is located east of Vietnam, west of the Philippines and far south of mainland China.
The United States does not officially position itself. But he estimates that Beijing “militarizes” the South China Sea.
“We are aware of the Chinese militarization in the South China Sea,” the administration’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, acknowledged on Thursday.
“We have directly raised our concerns about this with the Chinese and there will be short and long-term consequences,” he warned.
The United States Navy regularly ships to the area.
” China has to realize that they have benefited from the free navigation of the sea, and the US Navy has been a guarantor for it,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White. “We will continue carrying out our operations,” he said.
The Chinese defence ministry did not respond to AFP on Thursday.
In 2016 an arbitral jurisdiction invalidated Beijing’s claims. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, appealed by the Philippines, had judged that Beijing had no historical rights in the South China Sea. Beijing never accepted the ruling.
Source: La Republica