China has been accused of placing anti-aircraft missiles on a disputed island in the South China Sea.
Taiwan, which also claims Woody Island, said a number of missiles had been deployed there.
China did not deny the reports but claimed they were an attempt by Western media to create stories after Fox News published satellite images that appear to show eight missile launchers and a radar system.
Woody Island, which the Chinese call Yongxing Island, is the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. Picture: Google
The US network said there were two batteries of the HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles.
They are China’s new generation of radar homing missiles with a range of around 125 miles.
China has been building new islands in the disputed sea and constructing military installations and airstrips, although the country claims it is for legal and civilian purposes.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the media should focus instead on lighthouses the country has built in the South China Sea which he claimed had been “very useful in assuring the safety of passing ships."
US Navy aircraft have been photographing new islands in the South China Sea
The news comes after a two-day meeting in California between South East Asian regional leaders where the dispute over the South China Sea was the topic of debate.
US President Barack Obama said they had discussed the needs to reduce tensions in the area an “a halt to further reclamation, new construction and militarisation of disputed areas.”
The sea has been disputed for centuries but they have intensified as China has continued to expand its island building in the sea, which is a major shipping route for roughly £3.17tn in trade.
Several countries have overlapping claims to the islands and surrounding waters, including Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines.
China claims most of the area, which is believed to have significant oil and gas reserves.
Last month a US Navy destroyer sailed close to the Parcel Island chain in a “freedom of navigation” exercise.
Cover photo courtesy of Jian Kang.