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English>>Foreign Affairs

Defensive facilities 'legitimate'

(China Daily)    09:03, February 18, 2016

Beijing 'has the right to such deployments on Xisha Islands to protect national sovereignty'

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 17, 2016. Wang and Bishop attended the third round of bilateral diplomatic and strategic dialogue in Beijing on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Ding Haitao)

Any defense deployment on China's territory would be legitimate, Beijing said on Wednesday, responding to reports that China has positioned anti-aircraft missiles on the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea.

"The Xisha Islands are the inherent territory of China. China has justified and legal rights to implement defense facilities on its territory to protect national sovereignty and security," the Defense Ministry's Information Office said in a statement to China Daily.

"China started deploying maritime and air defense on relevant islands years ago. The hyping by certain Western media is a pure repeat of the 'China threat' theory," the statement said.

Fox News reported on Tuesday that China has deployed an advanced surface-to-air missile system on Yongxing Island of the Xisha Islands in the past week, citing satellite photos. A US official confirmed the accuracy of the photos, Fox said.

The report came several weeks after a US Navy destroyer intruded in Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. The Defense Ministry has said the Chinese military will take any necessary measures to protect national sovereignty.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily media briefing on Wednesday that he was unaware of the specifics of the situation, but added that any facilities that are built have to do with national defense, not militarization.

"We believe this is an attempt by certain Western media to create news stories," Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters at a news conference with Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Beijing.

Wang called on global media to pay more attention to the public service China has offered in the South China Sea, including construction of lighthouses, weather stations and rescue and shelter facilities for fishermen.

"All of those are actions that China, as the biggest littoral state in the South China Sea, has undertaken to provide more public goods and services to the international community and play its positive role there," he said.

He said China's construction of "limited, necessary facilities of self-protection" was "consistent with the right to self-preservation and self-protection that China is entitled to under international law, so there should be no question about that".

Yao Yunzhu, a senior researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said of the report about the missile deployment that "there is nothing surprising".

"Military implementation on islands is an act taken by countries around the globe, while China's military implementation on the Xisha Islands started many years ago," she said.

Yao said the move, if confirmed, would not be directly linked to the US destroyer intrusion. "However, more provocations will draw in more preparation."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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