December 15, 2016 / 7:56 AM / 8 months ago

China says deployment of military equipment on Spratlys is legitimate

A satellite image shows what CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative says appears to be anti-aircraft guns and what are likely to be close-in weapons systems (CIWS) on the artificial island Subi Reef in the South China Sea in this image released on December 13, 2016. Courtesy CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe/Handout via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's deployment of necessary defensive military equipment on the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea was legitimate and lawful, its defense ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry made the comment on its official microblog.

On Wednesday, a U.S. think tank reported that China appeared to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the busy waterway, citing new satellite imagery.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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