December 15, 2016 / 7:56 AM / 8 months ago

China says deployment of military equipment on Spratlys is legitimate

A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands. Photo taken February 2016. CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's deployment of necessary defensive military equipment on the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea was legitimate and lawful, its defence ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry made the comment on its official microblog.

On Wednesday, a U.S. think tank reported that China appeared to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the busy waterway, citing new satellite imagery.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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