China's bolstering of defenses on the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea will ensure regional peace and security and does not target any country, the Ministry of National Defense said on Tuesday.
"The Nansha Islands are Chinese territory, and China's establishing of a necessary military garrison and hardware on its islands is within its proper right as a sovereign nation," Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, the ministry's spokesman, said in an online statement in response to a recent report on China's military buildup in the region.
Strengthening military deployment in the area will "help protect national sovereignty and security, maintain the safe and smooth sailing of ships in the region and ensure regional peace and security", he added.
"It does not target any other country," Ren said. "China resolutely follows the path of peaceful development, and upholds a defensive national defense policy and military doctrine."
The Defense Ministry also rejected a claim in an Australian media report that China planned to build a military outpost in Vanuatu, an island country in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean near Australia.
"The Australian report is completely false," the ministry said in an online statement on Tuesday. It did not elaborate.
Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu's foreign minister, also rejected the report on Tuesday. "No one in the Vanuatu government has ever talked about a Chinese military base in Vanuatu of any sort," he told Australian Broadcasting Corp.