Following President Obama’s call for reducing tensions in the South China Sea and claiming the USA will continue to operate in the area at a conference of Southeast Asian leaders in California, officials from Taiwan announced Wednesday that the Chinese have deployed surface-to-air missiles to Woody Island in that very region.
This crescent-shaped island is the biggest of the 130 islands that make up the Paracel Island chain, and it is currently claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan and China.
However, in recent years China has made a forceful attempt to expand their territory and push everyone out of the South China Sea, making Naval travel for countries like the U.S. much harder. They also have continued building artificial islands on which they are building naval and air force bases.
Recently, the U.S. Navy sailed the missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur past some of the islands in that chain to show they will not honor China’s over reach, but it went by without incident as there were no Chinese vessels in the area at the time.
According to USA Today, this area is important for many reasons:
he South China Sea plays a crucial role in the region because of mineral deposits and trade routes. China has complicated regional tensions further by building new “islands” in the sea, piling sand on reefs and then constructing military installations.
The Chinese Foreign minister Wang Yi brushed off the critics saying:
“We believe this is an attempt by certain Western media to create news stories.”
The Pentagon has said that it is monitoring the situation closely, but one thing is clear: This is a major slap in the face to the President and an attempt by China to flex their muscle.