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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018


China accused by US of placing artillery on disputed islands

Disputed islands in South China Sea

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WASHINGTON - China is in a battle ready mode over disputed islands in South China Sea, according to surveillance conducted by the United States, which on Friday said that Beijing has placed artillery on one of the artificial islands it has created in the disputed waters.

The revelation, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as China and the US are engaged in a bitter war of words over the Chinese expansion and buildup in disputed South China Sea territory.

The military maneavour was discovered by the US several weeks ago, and it was not clear if the artillery pieces on the islands were still there or may have been moved or hidden, officials said.

The Pentagon has not released any photos to support the contention following the US surveillance of the territory.

Pentagon spokesman Brent Colburn said the US was aware of the weapons, but did not provide any further details.

Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate's Armed Services Committee, has said the presence of weapons on the artificial islands was unlikely to lead to conflict. But he warned that it may escalate tensions in the region.

"It is a disturbing development and escalatory development, one which heightens our need to make the Chinese understand that their actions are in violation of international law and their actions are going to be condemned by everyone in the world," McCain said.

"We are not going to have a conflict with China but we can take certain measures which will be a disincentive to China to continue these kinds of activities."

China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas.

Beijing's claim to the Spratly islands overlaps with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. This remote archipelago which has no indigenous population lies across some of the world's most important shipping lanes.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday demanded a "lasting halt to any further militarisation of disputed features".

He said there should be "no mistake" that America would continue to operate reconnaissance flights "wherever international law allows".

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday she had no information about the artillery.

Hua on Thursday warned the US about its reconnaissance flights over the disputed waters.

"China urges the US, think three times before taking action; act responsibly; stop all provocative speech and acts; and do more things that will benefit the region's peace and stability instead of the opposite," Hua said.>BNN

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