BEIJING (Sputnik) — Beijing has been positioning military infrastructure in the South China Sea for several decades, but this process is in no way linked to the militarization of the region, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday.
"The Xisha Islands are not disputed islands. China has been deploying military infrastructure on the Xisha Islands for decades, this is nothing new," Hong said at a daily briefing.
The foreign ministry spokesman rejected US accusations that such deployments are leading to the militarization of the region.
Chinese officials said the country was legally entitled to carry out such actions and pointed out that the HQ-9 air defense systems were sent to Woody Island a long time ago.
China, Taiwan and Vietnam all lay claim to strategically valuable Woody Island. Other countries in the region – the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia – also lay claim to disputed territories in the South China Sea.