China said its military deployments in the South China Sea are no different from US deployments on Hawaii.
The Chinese foreign ministry made the remarks on Monday after the United States last week accused China of raising tensions in the South China Sea by its apparent deployment of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island.
“China’s deploying necessary, limited defensive facilities on its own territory is not substantively different from the United States defending Hawaii,” Reuters quoted foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying in a daily news briefing.
China has neither confirmed nor denied the deployment of missiles.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang is set to visit the US from Tuesday to Thursday. He will meet with US Secretary of States John Kerry.
Asked whether the South China Sea, and the missiles, would come up in their talks, Hua said Washington should not use the issue of military facilities on the islands as a “pretext to make a fuss”.
US ships and aircraft carrying out frequent, close-in patrols and surveillance in recent years is what has increased regional tensions, she said.
“It’s this that is the biggest cause of the militarization of the South China Sea. We hope that the United States does not confuse right and wrong on this issue or practice double standards.”
Hua noted that “the US is not involved in the South China Sea dispute, and this is not and should not become a problem between China and the United States”.
China hopes the US abides by its promises not to take sides in the dispute and stop “hyping up” the issue and tensions, especially over China’s “limited” military positions there, she said.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the US would “press China to de-escalate and stop its militarization” in the South China Sea.
Toner said China’s “militarization activity” only escalated tensions, and added: “There needs to be a diplomatic mechanism in place that allows these territorial claims to be settled in a peaceful way.”
Talks between Wang and Kerry will also include the international response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test and rocket launch, cyber security and climate change, Toner told a regular news briefing.
On Monday, a senior US naval officer was reported as saying Australia and other countries should follow the US lead and conduct “freedom-of-navigation” naval operations within 12 nautical miles (18 km) of contested islands in the South China Sea.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than US$5 trillion in global trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
Beijing has rattled nerves with construction and reclamation activities on the islands it occupies, though it says these moves are mostly for civilian purposes.
The state-owned China Southern Power Grid Company will set up a power grid management station in what China calls Sansha City, located on Woody Island in the Paracels, which will be able to access microgrids in 16 other islands, according to China’s top regulator of state-owned assets.
In the long term, the station will be able to remotely manage power for many islands there, the statement added, without specifying which islands it was referring to.
Hua said the minister is also expected to discuss North Korea.
She repeated China’s opposition to the possible US deployment of an advanced US missile defense system following North Korea’s recent rocket launch.
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