The deployment of defensive facilities on some islands in the South China Sea is legitimate, and is the normal right of a sovereign country, according to the Chinese authorities.
Speaking at a regular news briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that, "the South China Sea islands are China's inherent territory. It's completely normal for China to carry out facility construction and deploy necessary territory defense facilities on its own land. As is admitted by international law, this is the normal right of a sovereign country."
Geng Shuang was responding to a question regarding a U.S. think tank report which states that China appears to have installed weapons on seven islands in the South China Sea.
"If China's building normal facilities and deploying necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own islands is considered militarization, then what is the sailing of fleets in the South China Sea?" said Geng.
The United States had conducted four, what Washington describes as, "freedom of navigation" patrols in the South China Sea in the past year or so, most recently in October.
Geng further noted that the current situation in the South China Sea is moving in a good and positive direction thanks to the efforts made by China and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"We have been reiterating that China devotes itself to safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea together with the ASEAN countries. Thanks to the efforts made by China and relevant ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is stabilizing and developing in a positive direction. We hope relevant countries can respect the efforts made by China and ASEAN countries and safeguard the positive developing momentum on the South China Sea issue," said Geng.
Meanwhile, China's defense ministry has said in a statement on its website that the construction on China's islands and reefs in the sea was "mainly for civilian use."
It also said the military installations are mainly for defense and self-protection and are legitimate and lawful.