Tensions Flare in South China Sea

China has deployed surface-to-air missiles to disputed islands in the South China Sea, prompting stern warnings from the US State Department and Taiwan. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday missile batteries were set up on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, which is claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, reported Reuters. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said commercial satellite imagery “appears to indicate” the missiles were deployed. “When President Xi was here in Washington, he stood in the Rose Garden with President Obama and said China will not militarize in the South China Sea, but there is every evidence, every day that there has been an increase of militarization of one kind or another,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday. “It’s of serious concern. We’ve had these conversations with the Chinese, and I’m confident that over the next days we will have further, very serious conversations? on this.” Kerry said he hopes China will “resolve jurisdictional issues of the South China Sea” through diplomacy rather than unilateral action and militarization. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said its military facilities were “limited and necessary self-defense facilities” and reports about missile deployments were just “hype,” according to Reuters. (See also: Power Projection, Reclamation in the South China Sea and China’s De Facto Control of South China Sea.)