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China can now deploy missiles to Spratlys – US think tank

Three of Beijing’s outposts on contested South China Sea reefs are nearly ready for the deployment of military assets including mobile missile launchers, a US think tank reported Thursday.

China said on Tuesday that it has the right to construct necessary defensive facilities on its own territory after a US think tank said Beijing was able to deploy warplanes on artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea any time.

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Vietnam has begun dredging work on a disputed reef in the South China Sea, satellite imagery shows, the latest move by the Communist state to bolster its claims in the strategic waterway.

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Images suggest China militarizing Spratlys

When President Xi Jinping of China visited President Obama at the White House last September, he startled many with reassuring words about his intentions for the Spratly Islands, a contested area where the Chinese government has been piling dredged sand and concrete atop reefs for the past few years and building housing and runways on them.

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A meeting of Asia-Pacific defense ministers has scrapped plans for a joint declaration after the Chinese delegation lobbied to block mention of Beijing’s island-building activities in the disputed South China Sea, a US defense official said Wednesday.

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