The United States Department of Defense said on Thursday that Chinese test launches of ballistic missiles in the South China Sea were a threat to peace and security in the region.
Confirming reports that China had launched as many as four ballistic missiles during military exercises around the Paracel Islands, the Pentagon said the move called into question the country’s 2002 commitment to avoiding provocative activities in the disputed seas.
“Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to easing tensions and maintaining stability,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The PRC’s actions, including missile tests, further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea.” The PRC – or People’s Republic of China – is the country’s official name.
“Such exercises also violate PRC commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability,” the Pentagon statement added.
Over the past decade China has built up military installations on several disputed reefs and outcrops in the South China Sea to assert its claim over much of the area. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia also have maritime claims to the sea.