Is­land de­fenses ‘le­git­i­mate, le­gal’

Bei­jing says mea­sures taken on the Nan­shas are not ‘mil­i­ta­riza­tion’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By LI XIAOKUN lix­i­aokun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing said on Thursday that nec­es­sary mil­i­tary mea­sures on the Nan­sha Is­lands are mainly for de­fense, cit­ing a high-pro­file for­eign mil­i­tary pres­ence right “out­side the front door”, an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to the United States.

The De­fense Min­istry’s re­marks on its mi­cro blog fol­lowed a re­port by a US think tank on Wednesday.

The re­port by the Wash­ing­ton-based Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, which cited re­cent satel­lite im­ages, said China ap­peared to have in­stalled weapons, in­clud­ing anti-air­craft and anti-mis­sile sys­tems, on seven is­lands in the South China Sea.

The De­fense Min­istry said devel­op­ment on the Nan­sha Is­lands was mainly for civil­ian pur­poses, while nec­es­sary mil­i­tary mea­sures there were mainly for de­fense and were “le­git­i­mate and le­gal”.

“For ex­am­ple, were some­one to be threat­en­ing you with armed force out­side your front door, would you not get ready with even a sling­shot?” the min­istry said on the mi­cro blog.

The US mil­i­tary has re­peat­edly con­ducted “free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion” op­er­a­tions in which ships and planes have passed close to Chi­nese ter­ri­tory.

Bei­jing said the moves were provo­ca­tions and in­creased the risk of a mil­i­tary ac­ci­dent.

Ad­mi­ral Harry Har­ris, who leads the US Pa­cific Com­mand, said on Wednesday that the United States will be ready to con­front China “where we must”.

US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump also hinted on Twit­ter that he would be harsher than his pre­de­ces­sor with China i n the South China Sea.

For­eign Min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang told a reg­u­lar news brief­ing on Thursday, “If China’s build­ing of nor­mal fa­cil­i­ties and de­ploy­ing nec­es­sary ter­ri­to­rial de­fen­sive fa­cil­i­ties on its own is­lands is con­sid­ered mil­i­ta­riza­tion, then what is the sail­ing of fleets into the South China Sea?”

He said the Nan­sha Is­lands “are China’s in­her­ent ter­ri­tory”.

He said the de­fen­sive fa­cil­i­ties on China’s ter­ri­tory are com­pletely nor­mal and have noth­ing to do with “mil­i­ta­riza­tion”.

Zuo Xiy­ing, a re­searcher of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ren­min Uni­ver­sity of China, said, “Given ex­ist­ing for­eign threats against China in the South China Sea, how can China put no de­fen­sive mea­sures in the re­gion?

“And, for sure, the US will con­tinue us­ing this topic to press China,” he said.

Zuo added that it seems Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton have dif­fer­ent un­der­stand­ings of non­mil­i­ta­riza­tion in the South China Sea.

Alexan­der Neill, a se­nior fel­low for Asia-Pa­cific se­cu­rity at the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Strate­gic Stud­ies in Sin­ga­pore, told the As­so­ci­ated Press that, look­ing for­ward, China’s new mil­i­tary de­ploy­ments will likely be cal­i­brated in re­sponse to moves taken by the US.

For sure, the US will con­tinue us­ing this topic to press China.” Zou Xiy­ing, a re­searcher of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ren­min Uni­ver­sity of China

Chu Yi con­trib­uted to this story.

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