Beijing military chiefs: U.S. warships 'seriously infringed' on China
29 May, 2018, 12:35 | Author: Edward Snyder
USA warships on Sunday cruised by two disputed islands in the South China Sea in a planned exercise, Reuters reported.
The US operation on Sunday was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters. It also came just days after the Pentagon uninvited China from a major USA -hosted naval drill.
In a move likely to anger Beijing, the Higgins, a guided-missile destroyer, and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
The U.S. military vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracel Islands, one of the officials said.
These types of operations are known as "freedom of navigation" with naysayers claiming that they have little impact on Chinese behavior and are largely symbolic.
"U.S. forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea".
Chinese defence chiefs have said United States warships entered the waters and did not leave when warned by Beijing's warships and aircraft. China has territorial claims to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, which has put it at odds with its neighbors.
In a statement later on Sunday, China's defence ministry said the move "contravened Chinese and relevant worldwide law, seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty (and) harmed strategic mutual trust between the two militaries".
The foreign ministry issued a statement expressing "resolute opposition" to the United States sail-by of the territory in the disputed Paracel Island chain on Sunday.
China said "mutual trust between the two militaries" had been "harmed" as a result, and that it would "continue to take all necessary measures to defend the country's sovereignty and security".
Earlier this month, sources close to the Vietnamese unit of Russia's Rosneft told Reuters that there were concerns about China's possible reaction to the drilling of a production well off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea that Rosneft had started days earlier.
Beijing says aircraft carriers are needed to protect its coastline and trade routes, although they are also seen as backing up Beijing's claims to self-governing Taiwan and the South China Sea.
China has always been accused of building artificial land masses in that region, which is also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia, and placing military assets there.
Last week, Chinese bombers landed on islands and reefs claimed by the Philippines, prompting Manila to take "appropriate diplomatic action" on the matter.
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