Earlier it was reported that satellite imagery obtained by Fox News showed that China had deployed two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers and a radar system on Woody Island. A US official verified the imagery accuracy.
The official said that the air defense system shown in the photos might be the new generation medium- to long-range, active radar homing surface-to-air HQ-9 missile system.
China deployed HQ-9 air defense system on the hotly disputed Woody Island in the Paracels in the South China Sea long ago, the Chinese Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
“The Paracel Islands are an integral part of Chinese territory. China has the undisputed right to place military infrastructure on its territory to protect its national security and sovereignty. Chinese air defense systems have been on these islands for many years already,” according to a written commentary from the Chinese Defense Ministry to RIA Novosti.
The foreign ministry spokesman added that China’s national defense build-up had nothing in common with the so-called militarization of the region.
China and neighboring countries — Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines — have differences over maritime boundaries and zones of responsibility in the South China and East China Seas.
China believes that countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam have deliberately used US support for the escalation of tensions in the region. Woody Island — one of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea — is under Chinese control.