China has positioned weaponry on one of the artificial islands it is developing in the South China Sea, the Wall Street Journal cited an unidentified American official as saying Thursday.
US surveillance imagery detected two Chinese motorized artillery pieces on one of the artificial islands built by China about a month ago, said the official.
While the artillery wouldn’t pose a threat to US planes or ships, its presence was at odds with China’s public statements that the reclaimed islands are mainly for civilian use, the official said.
The motorized artillery was, however, within range of an island claimed by Vietnam.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington wouldn’t comment specifically on the weaponry, but said the development work within the Spratly Islands — known in China as Nansha Islands – was primarily civilian, the report said.
“It needs to be emphasized that the Nansha Islands is China’s territory, and China has every right to deploy on relevant islands and reefs necessary facilities for military defense,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.
“However, the facilities on relevant islands and reefs are primarily for civilian purposes.”
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