BEIJING, February 17. /TASS/. China’s decision to deploy defense systems on an island in the South China Sea is lawful and reasonable and does not represent militarization of the region, Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Hong Lei said on Wednesday.
Commenting on deployment of HQ-9 surface-to-air missile launchers on Woody Island (part of Paracel Islands) in the South China Sea, Hong said: "The (Paracel) islands are an indispensable part of China’s territory. China’s deployment of defense systems on its own territory is lawful and rational." "This is connected with strengthening our capabilities in the sphere of defense. This is not in any way connected with the so-called militarization," he noted.
The HQ-9 is China’s new generation medium-to long-range, active radar homing surface-to-air missile. This is the first Chinese defense system capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.
Beijing has for decades been involved in a dispute with many countries in the region over the territorial jurisdiction of a number of islands in the South China Sea, where significant reserves of hydrocarbons have been found. This refers, above all, to the Xisha archipelago (the Paracel Islands), the Nansha Islands (the Spratly Islands) and Huangyan Island. Other countries involved in the dispute are Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. As of the end of 2013, China has been engaged in large-scale hydro-engineering and construction work on the expansion and development of the territories under its control.