China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the patrol, saying that the operation had violated worldwide and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing’s sovereignty and security, adding that the Chinese Navy had “warned and expelled” the USA warship.
A U.S. defense official said the plan was for the destroyer to sail within 6 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, one of the artificial islands built by China in the Spratleys.
According to the Chinese Defense, Chinese navy guided missile frigates “took immediate action to identify and verify the United States ship, and warned and dispelled it”.
Experts and officials have criticized former President Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China’s claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping. Nicole Schwegman said all Navy operations “are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever global law allows”.
Major construction at three of China’s large man-made islands in the Spratly’s has wrapped up, according to a separate AMTI report from March, allowing Beijing to deploy fighter jets and mobile missile launchers to the area at any time.
But Washington’s patrols have often angered Beijing because the United States is not a claimant in the territorial dispute in the mineral-rich South China Sea. “We told them we are a usa (ship) conducting routine operations in global waters”.
The operation also comes amid soaring tensions on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang’s missile programme, and as the United States seeks to push China into more assertively restraining North Korea.
With joint efforts of China and ASEAN members, the current situation in the South China Sea has stabilised and maintains a sound development momentum, he said, noting the recent China-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting adopted the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC).
Earlier in July, China accused US Navy’s USS Stethem destroyer of trespassing its territorial waters by sailing within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands.
Attracted by the strategic military location and the prospect of oil, China, Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam have all laid territorial claim to the Spratly’s and have occupied several islands.
China’s foreign ministry said the operation had “violated worldwide and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing’s sovereignty and security”.