Chinese Aggression in South China Sea Add to Growing Conflict Risk

WASHINGTON — China’s deployment of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the South China Sea, at the very moment that President Obama is trying to buttress American influence in the region, underscores the growing risk of conflict among the Chinese, their neighbors and the United States.

A day after Mr. Obama gathered 10 leaders from Southeast Asian countries for a summit meeting in California, a United States official said the Pentagon had evidence that China had placed missile batteries on an island that is part of an archipelago claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, as well as by China.

At the meeting, Mr. Obama sent a warning to China, declaring that the United States would “continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows” and that “we will support the right of all countries to do the same.” He said he had discussed with the leaders the need to halt further reclamation and militarization of islands in the South China Sea.

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