WASHINGTON - US Senator John McCain warned Tuesday that China was "unnecessarily provocative" in saying it will establish a military garrison on disputed South China Sea islands, and called for a multilateral solution to the dispute.
Beijing announced Monday its troops will operate from Sansha in the Paracel Islands, one of two archipelagos in the South China Sea that are claimed by both China and Vietnam. The move is likely to stoke further tensions in the region.
"The decision by China's Central Military Commission to deploy troops to islands in the South China Sea, which are also claimed by Vietnam, is unnecessarily provocative," the Republican McCain said in a statement.
He said other action by China including its appointment of legislators to govern such disputes "only reinforces why many Asian countries are increasingly concerned about China's expansive territorial claims, which have no basis in international law, and the possibility that China will attempt to impose those claims through intimidation and coercion."
The actions by Beijing "are disappointing and not befitting a responsible great power," he said.
"We must continue to urge all parties with territorial claims in the South China Sea to seek a peaceful, multilateral resolution that is based on international law."
Beijing did not say when the garrison would be established.
Disputes have flared in recent weeks, with Vietnam and the Philippines criticizing what they call Chinese encroachment.