US to Hold ‘Very Serious’ Talks With China on Militarization in Region

© REUTERS / Mike BlakeUS Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he arrives in a meeting room for the start of a 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Rancho Mirage, California February 15, 2016.
US Secretary of State John Kerry waves as he arrives in a meeting room for the start of a 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Rancho Mirage, California February 15, 2016. - Sputnik International
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The United States will hold earnest discussions with China on Beijing’s militarization in the South China Sea, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

View of the part of the city of Sansha on the island of Yongxing, also known as Woody island in the disputed Paracel chain. (File) - Sputnik International
US Urges Opposition to Beijing's Missiles Deployment in South China Sea
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US government confirmed Tuesday’s media reports that China had deployed a radar and two batteries of HQ-9 surface-to-air missile systems on Woody Island in the South China Sea.

"There is every evidence, every day, that there has been an increase of militarization of one kind or another," Kerry stated, adding that the issue poses a serious concern for the United States.

Kerry further noted that the United States had already had "conversations with the Chinese" on the matter, but expressed confidence "that over the next days we will have further, very serious conversation on this."

The Paracel Islands - Sputnik International
Japan Concerned About Beijing's Alleged Missiles in South China Sea
Following the media revelations, Chinese officials said their country’s national defense build-up had nothing to do with charges of "militarization" of the region, and pointed out that the HQ-9 air defense systems were sent to Woody Island long ago.

China and a number of other countries, including Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia, have rival claims to hundreds of islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and a 12-nautical-mile zone that surrounds them, but Washington has persistently challenged its claims by conducting patrols near the islands citing freedom of navigation.

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