Vietnam asks China to withdraw missiles from South China Sea
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has requested China to withdraw its military equipment from South China Sea outposts, saying their deployment seriously violates Hanoi’s sovereignty, increases tension and destabilizes the regional situation.
The comments came after CNBC reported last week that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three outposts in the contested Spratly Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam, among others.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement that Vietnam has sufficient legal basis and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over the Spratlys and the Paracels in the South China Sea.
“Vietnam request that China ... show its responsibility in maintaining peace, stability in the East Sea, do not carry out militarization activities, withdraw military equipment illegally installed on features under Vietnam’s sovereignty,” she said, using Vietnam’s name for the South China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday “peaceful constructions and deployed defensive facilities” aimed to “meet the need of safeguarding national sovereignty and security, which is also the right of a sovereign state.”
Hua denied such work constituted militarization and accused the U.S. of increasing military tensions in the area, adding that “they should be prepared for the consequences.”
China has constructed seven man-made islands and equipped them with runways, hangers, radar and missile stations, further cementing its vast territorial claims in the busy waterway. The U.S. says that militarization of the South China Sea runs contrary to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assurances to Washington.