A CNBC report said China quietly installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef, Mischief (Panganiban) Reef and Subi (Zamora) Reef in the Spratly Islands, which is also being claimed by the Philippines.
At least three opposition lawmakers from the House of Representatives slammed the Duterte administration's "inaction" over China's reported installation of missiles on the West Philippine Sea, which they said amounts to an "invasion".
"And there will be near-term and long-term consequences", Sanders told reporters, responding to a question on the Chinese military build up in the South China Sea and other parts of the world. Neither can seriously contest Chinese claims, however, and the Philippines has expressed concern U.S. efforts would suck them into a war with China.
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These incidents were then followed by a massive display of Chinese military might in the sea on April 12, culminating in a parade led by Beijing's only aircraft carrier and personally reviewed by President Xi Jinping.
China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have overlapping claims in the region. China lays claim to a number of disputed islands and territories, which often results in touchy situations during routine drills.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirmed that Chinese military personnel have used lasers against United States military planes in Djibouti. "Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this", she said, before going on to stress that China will continue to work with all countries to maintain peace and stability in the area.
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China on Wednesday denied the deployment of any missile systems in the region, saying it has "indisputable sovereignty" over the area.
"We don't comment on matters of intelligence", a spokesman said.
In response, the government of China has stated that it does not recognize the right of the court of arbitration at the Hague to consider the case of territorial issues in the South China sea and does not intend to comply with its decisions.
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The report revealed that China's YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missile can strike surface vessels within 295 nautical miles of the artificial islands. "Any action to militarize unilaterally features in the South China Sea would go against that responsibility and that role".
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