On Wednesday, it has been confirmed the existence of surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island in the South China Sea. These are Chinese sea and air defenses that apparently have been there for many years. However, this is a recent discovery that has caused a lot of controversies.
Woody Island is a really really really small island that is part of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. These islands are controlled by China, but the countries of Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines are in dispute over islands in the region and their surrounding waters.
The presence of the surface-to-air missiles was discovered by fox News. They obtained a series of images of the deployment of missile batteries taken by a commercial satellite.The news was not well received since the tension among these regions has been quite volatile during the territorial disputes.
According to an anonymous US official, the images are real and are showing the systems of an HQ-9s, which is a new generation active radar of medium to long range that can detect and hit aircrafts and even ballistic missiles.
“From their perspective this is a defense system designed to protect their sovereign territory,” said Neil Ashdown, a deputy editor at IHS Janes, a military research group, as reported by The Washington Post.
Everyone against China
According to CNN, China’s neighbors considered that Beijing was “changing the status quo of the region” so they appealed for measures to have the country under control.
Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen responded to the news by calling on “all parties to exercise self-control based on the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea,” according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency, as read in the CNN’s report.
Japan labeled China’s actions as unacceptable and cannot accept them. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that China tried to worsen the tensions in the South China Sea by rapidly recovering the region and using it for military purposes.
But China defends itself
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei referred to his country’s as “appropriate and reasonable”. The point of placing them there is to improve the national defense capabilities of the country and has no relation to any kind of militarization.