U.S. officials say China has deployed fighter
jets to island in disputed waters
China says it is allowed to deploy defense
systems on its territory; they’ve been there
(CNN)— China has deployed fighter jets to a
disputed island in the South China Sea, a U.S.
official told CNN on Tuesday.
U.S. officials said it’s not the first time China
has placed J-11 and J-7 fighter jets on the
island after expanding the runway there in
The placement of missiles on the island, which
appear to be permanently placed in concrete,
is of greater concern, according to the
The move comes as Chinese Foreign Minister
Wang Yi met with U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry in Washington on Tuesday.
China last week deployed surface-to-air
missiles on Woody Island, part of the Paracel
chain in the hotly disputed sea, according to
Taiwan and U.S. officials, in a move that has
alarmed the country’s Asian neighbors.
Chinese state media said defenses had been in
place on the island for years, and denied it was
militarizing the island.
Satellite images taken on February 14 appeared
to show several missile batteries and support
vehicles, according to ImageSat International,
which took the images.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry last week said it had
confirmed that surface-to-air missiles had
been deployed. U.S. officials, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, told CNN that
commercial satellite imagery showed the
deployment of missile batteries.
The news ratcheted up tensions in the volatile
region, already home to messy territorial
disputes, with a senior Japanese Cabinet
member labeling China’s actions unacceptable.
China controls the Paracel chain, but Taiwan
and Vietnam also claim it; Brunei, Malaysia
and the Philippines are also embroiled in
disputes with China over regional islands and
their surrounding waters.
A satellite image of Woody Island, part of the
disputed Paracel chain in the South China Sea,
is pictured left, on February 3, 2015, and
right, on February 14.
Showdown in the South China Sea: How did we
China’s Defense Ministry has said defense
facilities had existed on the islands for years,
according to the government-run Global Times.
It wasn’t clear whether the report was
referring to the surface-to-air missiles
identified by Taiwan officials, which satellite
imagery suggested had been deployed this
China has occupied Woody Island for 50 years.
The Global Times said the Paracel Islands were
Chinese territory and that China had the legal
right to deploy defensive measures to protect
its territorial sovereignty and integrity. It
blamed Western media for attempting to “hype
up the so-called China threat.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman
Hong Lei told reporters last week that the
“deployment of defense facilities in our own
territory is appropriate and reasonable.”
“It’s aimed at improving our national defense
capabilities and has nothing to do with so-
called militarization,” he told a press briefing.
Reports of the missile batteries on Woody
Island have prompted China’s neighbors to
appeal for restraint amid concerns Beijing was
changing the status quo in the region.
Taiwan President-elect Tsai Ing-wen responded
to the news by calling on “all parties to
exercise self-control based on the principle of
peaceful resolution of disputes in the South
China Sea,” according to Taiwan’s official
Central News Agency.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide
Suga said Beijing’s actions were unacceptable.
CNN’s Katie Hunt, Jim Sciutto, Tim Hume,
Kevin Wang, Serenitie Wang, Yazhou Sun, Ivan
Watson, Karen Chiu, Chieu Luu and Steven
Jiang contributed to this report.
Source : CNN