Beijing blames US for ‘militarizing’ sea

2016-02-20 02:59:14 GMT2016-02-20 10:59:14(Beijing Time)  Global Times

China said on Friday that it does not intend to pursue militarization of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, dismissing US accusations of raising tensions in the South China Sea.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a daily briefing that demilitarization in the region is not a matter for just a single country.

"There should not be double standards or multi-standards for demilitarization in the South China Sea, and the process requires joint efforts from countries in the region and beyond," he said.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that commercial satellite imagery suggested "very recent" placement of missiles on Yongxing Island that went against China's pledge not to militarize the South China Sea, Reuters reported.

In response to the accusation, Hong said the US is strengthening military deployment in the South China Sea and frequently sends military vessels or planes to waters in the South China Sea to conduct close-in reconnaissance against China.

"China's deployment of national defense facilities has resulted from US provocations, including inciting the Philippines and dragging countries outside the South China Sea like Japan to interfere in the issue," Shen Shishun, an expert in Asia-Pacific studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.

As well as the US, Australia and New Zealand on Friday also weighed in on the issue, strongly urging China to refrain from stoking tensions in the South China Sea, Reuters reported on Friday.

However, Hong argued that the two countries are not countries directly concerned in the South China Sea issue.

"Islands in the South China Sea have been China's inherent territory since ancient times. China has the right to safeguard its lawful rights and interests. The deployment of limited and necessary national defense facilities on its own territory is China's exercise of self-preservation and self-defense rights granted by international law to sovereign states, not militarization," Hong said.

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