China removes surface-to-air missiles from contested zone

CHINA'S removal of surface-to-air missiles from a disputed island in the South China Sea has been interpreted as an effort to defuse tensions.

Satellite images reveal the new-generation missiles were removed from Woody Island before the international Permanent Court of Arbitration's decision on July 12 to reject Beijing's claims over the South China Sea.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie told the South China Morning Post that Beijing's move might be in response to the Pentagon's withdrawal of a warship from the South China Sea on July 5.

"The Chinese military needed to show a friendly gesture after the Pentagon withdrew the USS John Stennis to Hawaii," Li said.