BEIJING – China has accused the U.S. of militarizing the South China Sea, just days after it was revealed Beijing had deployed surface-to-air missiles on an island in the disputed area.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters Friday that patrols by U.S. military aircraft and Navy vessels along with joint exercises with regional partners had raised tensions and constituted true militarization.
U.S. and Taiwanese officials this week confirmed commercial satellite images showing the missiles placed on Woody Island in the disputed Paracel chain. China has not denied the appearance of the missiles.
The deployment follows China's building of new islands by piling sand atop reefs and then adding airstrips and military installations. The buildup is seen as part of Beijing's efforts to claim virtually the entire disputed sea and its resources.