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China May Have Removed Missiles From Island

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China May Have Removed Missiles From Island

Beijing may have removed missile systems from a disputed island in the South China Sea even as it accused the US of sending "attacking weapons" to the region.

The deployment of a number of missile systems to the Spratly and Paracel Islands in May sparked an angry rebuke from Washington about Beijing's "militarization" of the sea, almost all of which is claimed by China, reports CNN.

It was followed by a B-52 bomber flyover of the Spratlys this week, which the US said was part of a "routine training mission."

New analysis from Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International (ISI) suggests the Chinese missile systems may have been removed or relocated.

On Wednesday, Beijing said it was the US, not China, which was militarizing the region.

"I hope the US can explain to everyone: Isn't it militarization when you send attacking weapons like the B-52 bombers to the South China Sea? Were the B-52s there for freedom of navigation and overflight? If someone frequently flexes his muscles or snoops around near your house, shouldn't you raise your alertness and improve your defense capabilities?" Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference.

"China will not be intimidated by any planes or ships. We will only be firmer in our resolve to take all necessary measures to safeguard our sovereignty and security as well as maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea."