08:01 GMT +314 December 2018
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    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)

    US Urges Opposition to Beijing's Missiles Deployment in South China Sea

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    The US urges countries that support peace to oppose China’s deployment of HQ-9 surface-to-air missile systems to the disputed Woody Island in the South China Sea.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Countries that support peace should oppose China’s deployment of HQ-9 surface-to-air missile systems to the disputed Woody Island in the South China Sea, White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said on Twitter Wednesday.

    "[United States] and ASEAN leaders agreed on a series of principles for maritime security yesterday," Rhodes said when asked on Twitter how Washington and ASEAN leaders would respond to Beijing’s surface-to-air missiles deployment.

    ​Rhodes noted that efforts to militarize the South China Sea "should be opposed by all who support peace, security and development in the region."

    The United States, he added, "will support freedom of navigation and maritime capabilities/efforts to resolve claims under intl [international] law."

    Earlier on Tuesday, US media reported citing Taiwanese and US officials that China had deployed two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile and radar systems on Woody Island in the South China Sea.

    Following the reports however, Chinese officials said their country’s national defense build-up had nothing to do with charges of "militarization" of the region, and added the 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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