With Surface-to-Air Missiles, China Militarizes the South China Sea

Beijing’s provocative move to put sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles on little Woody Island breaks previous promises and invites retaliation.

China deployed its advanced HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island in the South China Sea sometime in the first half of this month, Pentagon officials have revealed. Images of the missiles were released yesterday by various news organizations, and Taiwan’s defense ministry confirmed the reports.

The Chinese deployment breaks a series of pledges Beijing made to the United States and the international community, one as recently as last month by Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Secretary of State John Kerry during Kerry’s trip to Beijing.

The missile deployments will destabilize the already troubled South China Sea, and the situation there could deteriorate fast as various nations, including the United States, introduce military assets in response to Beijing’s rapid build-up.

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