South China Sea installations ‘primarily’ civilian: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

By AFP | Mar 24, 2017 | Economic Times

China is not militarising the disputed South China Sea, the country’s premier said today in Australia, claiming defence equipment Beijing has installed on artificial islands is “primarily” for civilian use.

The sea is a source of growing regional tension, with Beijing insisting it has sovereignty over virtually all the resource-rich waters, which are also claimed in part by several other countries, and deemed international waters by most of the world.

“Even if there is a certain amount of defence equipment or facilities, it is for maintaining the freedom of navigation,” Premier Li Keqiang told a press conference with Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra.

“Because without such freedom, or without stability in the South China Sea, the Chinese side would be among the first to bear the brunt of it.”

China “never has any intention to engage in militarisation in the South China Sea”, he said, adding installations — which include airstrips and missile batteries — are “primarily for civilian purposes”. Read more…

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