The Latest: US says imagery appears to show China missile

AP News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2016 2:31 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on China's reported deployment of missiles on a disputed island in the South China Sea (all times local):

2:27 p.m.

The State Department says commercial satellite imagery appears to indicate that China has deployed a surface-to-air missile system on a disputed outpost in the South China Sea.

Spokesman Mark Toner was responding to reports that China has placed missiles on Woody Island in the Paracel chain, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

Toner told reporters in Washington on Wednesday, that if true, China's action "will raise tensions further in the region."

China's land reclamation and apparent militarization of outposts in the South China Sea have becoming a rising source of tension with some of its neighbors and Washington.

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12:20 p.m.

A U.S. official is confirming that China has placed a surface-to-air missile system on an island in the South China Sea.

The official said the deployment is on Woody Island in the Paracel chain, but it is unclear whether this is a short-term deployment or something intended to be more long-lasting.

The official was not authorized to discuss the information publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

— Robert Burns, Washington.

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11:25 a.m.

Secretary of State John Kerry says there is increasing evidence of militarization by China in the South China Sea.

Kerry described that as a "serious concern."

He was responding to a question about reports that China has deployed positioned anti-aircraft missiles on a disputed South China Sea island in what analysts are describing as significant military escalation.

In his brief comments, Kerry did not confirm the reports. He was speaking Wednesday before meeting with Poland's foreign minister.

Kerry said there would be more talks with China in coming days. He urged China to resolve disputes through diplomacy not unilateral actions and force.

China has stepped up construction and land reclamation to support its claims to most of the South China Sea, unnerving its neighbors.