Beijing defended its construction of what it called defensive facilities in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, saying the moves were not directed at any specific country, according to a Defense Ministry spokesman.

"China's garrison on the islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands and the deployment of necessary national defense facilities are the natural rights of sovereign states," spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement posted to the ministry's website.

China refers to the South China Sea's Spratly chain as the Nansha Islands. The Spratlys are home to seven Chinese-held man-made islands that it has fortified with deep-water piers, military-grade airfields, defensive weapons and barracks.