China is deploying various classes of missiles to contested areas of the Spratly Islands region in the South China Sea, the Washington Free Beacon media outlet citing Pentagon officials, according to Sputnik.
"China is continuing its gradual deployment of military equipment to its Spratly Islands outposts in the disputed South China Sea. These deployments involve the delivery of military jamming equipment as well as advanced anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems to the outposts," a Pentagon official told the Washington Free Beacon media outlet.
According to the media, YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles with a 340-mile range, as well as HQ-9A or HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missiles with a 184-mile range will be deployed, the officials said.
The Asia-Pacific region has several territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas that involve Brunei China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
China considers the Spratly archipelago as its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling, which said there was no legal basis for China's maritime claims. The arbitration proceeding was initiated by the Philippines in January 2013.
In May, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge not to militarize the Spratly Islands, Beijing had moved weapons there.
In turn, Beijing said that it had the sovereign right to send troops to any part of its territory, and any attempt to criticize these efforts would be considered an effort to interfere in China's internal affairs.