Reports that China has placed missiles on the contested Spratly Islands have Australia and the US concerned, after China promised not to militarise the islands.
Long-range anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles have reportedly been deployed on the islands, with China neither confirming nor denying the reports.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the “Australian government would be concerned” if the reports were true.
”This would be contrary to China’s stated aspiration that it would not militarise these features,’’ she continued.
“China, of course, has a unique responsibility as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, to uphold peace and security around the world.
“Any action, to militarise unilaterally, features in the South China Sea would go against that responsibility and that role.”
The White House has also responded to the claims, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sander saying there will be “near-term and long-term consequences” for China.
Ownership of the islands is hotly contested by Vietnam and Taiwan, and are part of a wider push by China for control of more territory in the South China Sea.