State Department Reminds China That Hawaii Is a State, Unlike China's Man-Made Islands

By Patrick Goodenough | February 23, 2016 | 12:14am EST
An aerial view of Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Arlo Abrahamson.)

( – Beijing has compared China’s reported deployment of military assets in disputed territory of the South China Sea to the U.S. defending Hawaii, prompting a State Department spokesman to point out Tuesday that Hawaii is a U.S. state.

There is no difference between China’s deployment of necessary national defense facilities in its own territory and the defense installation by the U.S. in Hawaii,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said a day before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was due to begin a visit to the U.S.

“I would make note of the fact that Hawaii is a member – or a state [of the United States],” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in response to a question about the Chinese claim.

“All kidding aside, I mean, what we want to see China do has been made clear multiple times, that we want to see it to cease or to stop its militarization activities, its settlement activities in the South China Sea,” Toner continued.

“All it does is escalate tensions. There needs to be a diplomatic mechanism in place that allows these claims, territorial claims, to be settled in a peaceful way. And in the meantime, we’re going to continue to press China to de-escalate and to stop its militarization.”

China is engaged in disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan over resource-rich areas of the South China Sea, an area that includes some of the world’s most important shipping trade corridors.

Beijing has neither denied nor confirmed recent claims that it has apparently deployed surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the Paracel island group.

At her press conference earlier, Hua said Wang would be taking to Washington the message that the U.S. should be “fully committed to its promise of not taking positions on the relevant disputes.”

The U.S. should “stop hyping the South China Sea issue and the tense atmosphere there” but instead play a “constructive” role in the region, she added.

Hua said the biggest cause of the militarization of the area is the U.S. insistence on carrying out air and sea patrols and surveillance.

The Defense Department says the U.S. will continue – in keeping with international law – to carry out “freedom of navigation” patrols in the area, where China has also constructed artificial islands in support of its territorial claims.

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