China responds to US claims of "militarizing" islands
China has insisted it has the right to develop defense capabilities within its own territories.
China has denied accusations of a substantial military buildup after a top US general accused the nation of moving an arsenal of weaponry to seven South China Sea islands and "destabilizing" the region.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin replied to US Indo-Pacific Commander Admiral John Aquilino's claims that China is pursuing "the largest military buildup since World War II," including on islands off its southern coast, in a press conference on Tuesday.
Wang stressed that a sovereign country is "naturally entitled" to install required defense facilities on its own territory, adding that it is "consistent with international law and above reproach, for China to do so."
While the American admiral claimed that Chinese forces had prepared at least three new islands with "anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment," as well as "fighter jets," claiming that China now poses a threat to its neighbors, Wang refuted the claims and said that Washington is the one "sowing discord and flexing [its] muscles in the South China Sea," not Beijing.
The Spokesperson argued that the US has been enhancing military deployment in recent years and commonly sends warships and equipment for "provocative" purposes.
Wang emphasized that this in turn "gravely threatens the sovereignty and security of littoral countries and undermines the sound order and navigation safety in these waters."
At least six states have territorial claims in the South China Sea, however, Beijing has relied on its historical rights to much of the territory. According to AP, almost $5 trillion in commerce travels through the key canal each year.
It is noteworthy that US warships periodically conduct exercises in the Taiwan strait in an attempt to provoke Beijing, often triggering cautionary responses from Beijing, as China views Taiwan and the surrounding waters as its territory.
A growing number of US allies have transited the route as Beijing intensifies its military threats toward Taiwan and solidifies its control over the disputed South China Sea.
Warships from Britain, France, Canada, and Australia have all made passages through the Taiwan Strait in recent years, sparking protests from Beijing.