• Missile deployment worries AFP brass

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    CHINA would not deploy surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), if it did not intend to use them, a Philippine military official said on Thursday.

    Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command said Beijing’s action threatened stability in the region.

    “The stability in the region is being threatened because of the deployment ng mga ganung klaseng armas [of those kinds of arms],” Lopez said.

    He added, “There is an impact because if you will deploy, you have the intention to use it. That’s one thing that really impacts on the security of the region because if they have [those missiles], there is an intention to use [them].”

    Lopez said while the area where the missiles were deployed was far from the Philippines particularly the Kalayaan Island Group, officials are bothered with the deployment of such military equipment.

    “Yes, in a way, because it [deployment]not only concerns us, it’s the whole region,” he explained.

    On Wednesday, Taiwan disclosed that China has deployed surface-to-air missiles in the disputed waterway even as Beijing insisted it had a right to build “self-defense” systems in the strategic region.

    Taiwan’s defense ministry confirmed the deployment after Fox News reported that missile launchers had arrived on Woody Island, part of the Paracels chain, in the past week.

    The report came as US President Barack Obama called for “tangible steps” to reduce tensions in the region.

    China has controlled all of the Paracels,

    which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, since the mid-1970s and the end of the Vietnam War.

    FERNAN MARASIGAN

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