Beijing’s Increasing Militarization in South China Sea a ‘Serious Concern’

This satellite image shows Chinese missile systems on Woody Island in the South China Sea. (Image: Tomo News via Screenshot/YouTube)
This satellite image shows Chinese missile systems on Woody Island in the South China Sea. (Image: Tomo News via Screenshot/YouTube)

Following reports that the Chinese military has placed surface-to-air missiles on the contested island in the South China Sea, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has described Beijing’s increased militarization of the area as a “serious concern.”

“When President Xi was here in Washington, he stood in the Rose Garden with President Obama and said China will not militarize in the South China Sea,” said Kerry at a press conference in the U.S. capital on Feb.17.

Kerry said that the U.S. has repeatedly stated the same standard should be applied to all countries with respect to the no militarization of the South China Sea.

“But there is every evidence every day that there has been an increase of militarization of one kind or another. It’s of serious concern,” he said.

Kerry’s comments follow news that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have placed a HQ-9 air defense system on Woody Island, part of the Paracel Island chain, reports Fox News.

A day after Kerry’s comments, Beijing confirmed via its state run press that it had “weapons” on the island.

Satellite images revealed that the PLA had two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers as well as a radar system on the island, which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. China has controlled the island for the past four decades.

Fox said the missiles have a range of 125 miles.

Watch this report by TomoNews US on Beijing’s deployment surface-to-air missiles on the island:

The heavily contested South China Sea is a key international trade route, and it’s rich in natural resources. Beijing claims around 90 percent of it as its own territory. Over the past several years, the Chinese have been busy turning atolls into islands capable of being militarized. They have created 3,000 acres of new territory on seven reefs says Fox. As part of that they have built three airstrips.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have contesting claims in the area, but what Beijing is doing dwarfs all of their efforts combined.

“My hope is that China will realize that it is important to try to resolve the jurisdictional issues of the South China Sea not through unilateral action, not through force, not through militarization, but through diplomacy and by working with the other countries and claimants in trying to resolve these differences,” Kerry said.

The U.S. says it has no territorial ambitions in the area, but it has stated that it has a “national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea.”

Watch this report from Wall Street Journal on how U.S. President Barack Obama promised to help Southeast Asian countries counter China’s expanding territorial claims:

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