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China deployed missiles to South China Sea island, report says

The missiles have been secretly arriving on Woody Island, one of the islands in the Paracel chain, in February.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Feb. 16, 2016 at 11:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- China has placed a system of advanced surface-to-air missiles in the South China Sea.

The Chinese military has deployed the weapons in the Paracel Islands, also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, Fox News reported Tuesday.

Beijing may have also been militarizing the Spratly Islands after building artificial islands on live reefs, and was criticized by claimants and the United States for the buildup.

The Paracels are a chain of islands claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

According to Fox, a U.S. official confirmed that the imagery from ImageSat International was accurate, and showed a HQ-9 air defense system, similar to Russia's S-300 missile system. The HQ-9 has a range of 125 miles and can target planes or military vessels traveling nearby.

The missiles have been secretly arriving on Woody Island, one of the islands in the chain, in February. According to the image, there are now two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers.

A U.S. Navy destroyer had previously sailed near the island, and Beijing had warned of "consequences" after the event.

The United States has repeatedly called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, and on Tuesday President Obama called for China's cooperation again, Voice of America reported.

Speaking before the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif., the president urged for an end to land reclamation.

"The United States and ASEAN are reaffirming our strong commitment to a regional order where international rules and norms and the rights of all nations, large and small, are upheld," Obama said.

The president also called for a return to civilian rule in Thailand and that he would work with those willing to advance human rights in Southeast Asia.

Outside, protesters had condemned human rights violations before the summit began.

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