China is preparing to send troops into a disputed South China Sea that the US says is its sovereign territory.
Key points:China has been ramping up its military presence in the South China sea, and it says it is ready to respond if the US starts taking actionThe US has warned that military action against China could trigger a trade warChina has also been ramped up its efforts to develop its military, and has been moving closer to its artificial island in the disputed Spratly Islands.
In recent weeks, China has been sending military vessels and aircraft to the waters, and US defence officials say it is preparing for a response if the United States starts taking military action.
The Pentagon has also said it is planning to send up to 20 aircraft carrier strike groups and up to 15 ships to the region.
The US military is also building a naval base at the contested area and sending ships to patrol it, US defence official Ned Price said in an interview on ABC News.
The United States and the Philippines are involved in a decades-long territorial dispute over the Spratlys.
The Philippines claims the Sprats, part of a chain of islands between the Philippines and Malaysia, as part of its exclusive economic zone.
China has repeatedly said it has the right to use its territorial waters to conduct military operations.
But in the past, China and the United Nations have rejected calls for an immediate halt to the operation, saying it would create “dangerous” regional tensions.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington had asked Beijing to stop using the region’s airspace to fly military aircraft.
“I would urge China to exercise restraint and avoid using its airspace to conduct any sort of activity,” he said.
“It’s a vital area for the security of the region and the region itself.”
China has accused the United State of using its territory as a pretext to pursue its own interests in the region, and said its actions were in the interests of peace and stability in the area.
In a speech on Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China would use “all possible means” to defend its sovereignty.
He said the United US’ actions were part of the same “stupid policy” that “has been used to provoke and stir up a conflict in the entire world”.
The United Nations said China was “actively” violating the armistice that ended World War Two, and that it was also using its naval power to block a UN Security Council resolution condemning China’s military activities in the East China Sea.
The Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution on Wednesday, which called for the deployment of military assets by the two sides in the Sprato Sea.
China’s defence ministry on Tuesday said it would deploy troops to the area, saying they were “ready to respond” if the resolution is adopted.
“We will continue to defend and safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity and to take all necessary measures to defend against any provocation,” it said in a statement.
It added that the ministry had made clear its “right to conduct patrols and defend against external aggression and aggression” in the strategic waterway.
“China will use all possible means to safeguard peace and security of China-ASEAN relations and regional stability and sovereignty,” the ministry said.