U.S. warns China of ‘consequences’ over reported missiles in South China Sea

The United States has warned China that there will be “consequences” for its growing militarization of disputed islands in the South China Sea amid reports it has moved missiles to the region.
The threat comes as the two nations continue talks to resolve a major trade dispute, and follows a formal complaint to Beijing over lasers blinding U.S. pilots in the Horn of Africa.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a news briefing Thursday that Washington was “well aware” of China’s increased military presence in the South China Sea.
She was responding to a CNBC report that China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three of the Spratly Islands fortified outposts west of the Philippines.“We’ve raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this and there will be near-term and long-term consequences,” Sanders said.
Confirmation of the missiles could provoke renewed tensions in the area; they would be the first such weapons deployed in the Spratlys, over which Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also have rival claims to sovereignty.
China has not denied the reports. A foreign ministry spokeswoman told reporters Thursday that Beijing has “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratlys and that “the deployment of necessary national defense facilities are meant to safeguard China’s sovereignty and security.”
“The relevant deployment targets no-one,” the spokeswoman added.