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China not to militarise dispute islands in South China Sea, claims Chinese Premier Li

China Premier Said On Friday Chaina Is Unable To Militarize The Disputed South China Sea While Claiming The Defence Equipment Beijing Has Installed On Artificial Islands Is

PTI | Updated on: 24 Mar 2017, 07:47:02 PM
Chinese premier


China will not militarise the disputed island in the South China sea, the chinese premier said on friday in Australia while claiming defence equipment has installed on artificial islands is "primarily" for civilian use. 

The sea is a source of growing regional tension, with 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," Li Keqiang told a press conference with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra. 

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

"never has any intention to engage in militarisation in the South Sea", he said, adding installations -- which include airstrips and missile batteries -- are "primarily for civilian purposes". 

Li said aircraft and ships that transit through the South Sea were from trading partners with Beijing, "so one can easily imagine how many Chinese interests are at stake here".

Also Read: China need to worry about growing rich and poor divide: Experts

 Sydney-based independent strategic consultant Tim Johnston said the nations involved in the dispute, including and other claimants such as Vietnam and the Philippines, were "being slightly disingenuous". 

"You build up features in the South Sea in disputed waters, you are likely to have to defend them, which implies some degree of militarisation," he told AFP. 

"We have the photographs of what looks like military installations on a number of the islands that occupies." 

Li's comments that did not want to restrict navigation in the South Sea was also to be expected as no country was seeking such an outcome, Johnston said.

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Instead, it was China's need for a veto over activities in the waters that were contentious "in a region where nationalism is very raw and borders are undefined". 

But he added the premier's remarks could be interpreted as an attempt "not to exacerbate the situation", at least for the current period. 

"No-one is likely to back down publicly, but that's very different from not pushing forward. I think that's where we are. 

has followed key ally the United States in carrying out several so-called "Freedom of Navigation" over-flights and sail-bys in the region, which previously described as "provocations". 

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has also said the building of artificial islands and possible militarisation by create regional mistrust.

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First Published : 24 Mar 2017, 03:02:00 PM

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