China justifies military installations


CHINA yesterday defended its right to put “necessary military installations” on its islands in the South China Sea, after a US thinktank said Beijing appeared to have deployed weapons such as anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that its findings were based on analysis of satellite images of islands in the strategic trade route in the South China Sea.

China’s defense ministry said in a statement on its website that the construction the ministry had carried out on China’s islands and reefs in the sea was “mainly for civilian use.”

“As for necessary military installations, they are mainly for defense and self-protection and are legitimate and lawful,” the defence ministry said.

“If someone makes a show of force at your front door, would you not ready your slingshot?”

The United States has conducted four what it called “freedom of navigation” patrols in the South China Sea in the past year or so, most recently in October.

The AMTI claimed that satellite images of islands China has built in the Nansha Islands chain showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems to protect against cruise missile strikes.

Other images showed towers that likely contained targeting radar, it said.

China said that it is entitled to limited and necessary defensive installations on its islands in the South China Sea.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing that he “was not clear” about the specific situation referred to in the AMTI’s report.