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China Deploys Weapons on Artificial Islands in South China Sea

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A HQ-9 TEL vehicle on Woody Islands in the Paracels fires off a 200km range missile during recent live fire exercises.

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BEIJING – China’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday its deployment of necessary defensive facilities on some islands in the South China Sea is legitimate and normal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks in response to a question regarding a US think tank report saying China appeared to have installed weapons on seven islands in the South China Sea.

Calling the South China Sea islands China’s inherent territory, Geng said China’s building of necessary defensive facilities on its own territory is completely normal and has nothing to do with militarization.

“If China’s building normal facilities and deploying necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own islands is considered militarization, then what is the sailing of fleets in the South China Sea?” he said.

Currently, the situation of the South China Sea issue is moving in a good and positive direction, he said.

“We hope countries concerned could respect the efforts of China and ASEAN members, and maintain the positive momentum of the South China Sea situation,” he added

In recent years, Beijing has turned scattered coral reefs into small, strategic outposts by piling sand and then building things like barracks, lighthouses and military-grade airstrips. China claims sovereignty over the full South China Sea — in direct conflict with international rulings and other countries bordering the sea, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

In a recent television interview, President-elect Donald Trump accused Beijing of building a “massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea.”

Beijing maintains that these seven artificial islands serve civilian, not military purposes.

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