Countries including Taiwan and Japan are speaking out against China after the country apparently deployed an advanced surface-to-air missile system to a contested island in the South China Sea. Satellite images taken Sunday, first published by Fox News, appear to show two batteries of eight missile launchers and a radar system on Woody Island. China's foreign minister didn't confirm or deny the deployment but described the "self-defense facilities" on islands in the South China Sea as "limited and necessary" and "consistent with the self-defense and self-preservation China is entitled to under international law." US officials and Taiwan, which claims Woody Island as its own Phu Lam Island, later confirmed the deployment, per the Guardian and CNN.
The images appear to show an HQ-9 air defense system with a range of 125 miles. But that doesn't seem to have fazed President Obama, even after China's frosty reception to a US flyover of a man-made island in December. "The US will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows," Obama said Tuesday at a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. "We will support the right of other countries to do the same." Taiwan President-elect Tsai Ing-wen tells Reuters that tensions have been raised in the region and "we urge all parties to work on the situation." A rep for Japan's foreign ministry adds moves like China's raise "serious concerns" and "cannot be accepted." (China is building an airstrip on another island.)