China may have just worsened the growing tension in the South China Sea by sending its fighter jets to the disputed region dubbed as Woody Island. The arrival of the military aircraft happened just days after China deployed its surface-to-air missiles on the island earlier this month.
As confirmed by U.S. officials, the Chinese government recently send a number of Shenyang J-11 and Xian JH-7 warplanes in the region. Although the exact number of the aircraft is still unknown, reports indicate that it is less than 10, Daily Caller reported.
Aside from the aircrafts, satellite images of the island revealed missile batteries and the construction of what appears to be high-frequency radar installations.
The presence of military equipment on Woody Island will surely not help in diffusing the ongoing tension between countries claiming territorial ownership on the region.
"Regrettably, there are missiles, fighter aircraft [and] guns placed into the South China Sea and this is of great concern to everyone who transits or relies on the South China Sea for peaceful trade, commerce and use," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement according to CNBC.
Kerry also noted that China's ongoing work on Woody Island goes against Premiere Xi Jinping's promise of not militarizing the disputed area.
Admiral Harry Harris of the U.S. Pacific Command stressed that China's actions in deploying war supplies and infrastructures on the island clearly indicate its military intentions. In a way, it could serve to intimidate the governments of other countries which are also claiming ownership of the island such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, ABC.net has learned.
China, on the other hand, maintained that it has every right to equip the island with military supplies since the country is only upholding its lawful ownership of Woody Island. But, Wang also noted that the country is open to holding peaceful negotiations and dialogues with the other countries which have stated their own territorial claims on the region.