China Accuses US Warship of Violating Its Sovereignty

by Joy Montgomery January 22, 2018, 2:07
China Accuses US Warship of Violating Its Sovereignty

A US Navy destroyer sailed near a disputed shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea this week, US officials said on Saturday, and Beijing vowed to take "necessary measures" to protect its sovereignty.

China said that the US ship came within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan Island in the South China Sea, according to a Reuters report.

The vessel failed to get Beijing's permission for entering the waters and was intercepted by the Chinese Navy, with China's Foreign Ministry accusing the U.S. of violating "sovereignty and security interests" as well as posing a "grave threat" to its forces stationed in the area.

China "firmly opposes" efforts to use freedom of navigation as an excuse to hurt its sovereignty and urges the United States to "correct its mistakes", Lu said.

A Pentagon statement downplayed the issue by not directly referring to the incident, while asserting that US Navy patrols around the world regularly carry out "freedom of navigation" missions. A spokesperson for the Pentagon told the outlet "all operations are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

"We urge the United States to respect the facts, speak and act cautiously to avoid harming the peace and stability of the South China Sea", China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a news briefing last January.

"The South China Sea will be the ground on which the two powers will wrestle for military power".

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Scarborough is a tiny, uninhabited reef that China seized from the Philippines in 2012 as part of Beijing's dramatic territorial grab and military buildup in the sea. "But we firmly oppose any country using navigation and overflight freedom as an excuse to hurt China's sovereignty and security interests", he said.

Bonnie Glaser, an Asia expert at CSIS, said the USA freedom of navigation operations in the waters were unlikely to stop. Beijing considers any United States patrols within 12 nautical miles of the islands as an intrusion into its territorial waters.

Tensions over China's aggressive stance toward its territoriality in the South China Sea has flustered its relations with the USA and its allies.

"It has asked China not to build on the shoal, which China has not".

"China is unlikely to dredge at Scarborough Shoal in the near term", Glaser said.

Construction is shown on Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea, in this June 16, 2017, satellite image released by Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to Reuters on June 29, 2017. "Doing so would put at risk its improved relations with the Philippines under Duterte".

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