China: Consequences Over US Warship 03/24 06:11
China threatened "serious consequences" Friday after the U.S. Navy sailed a
destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea for the
second day in a row, in a move Beijing claimed was a violation of its
sovereignty and security.
BANGKOK (AP) -- China threatened "serious consequences" Friday after the
U.S. Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands in the South
China Sea for the second day in a row, in a move Beijing claimed was a
violation of its sovereignty and security.
The warning comes amid growing tensions between China and the United States
in the region, as Washington pushes back at Beijing's growingly assertive
posture in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its
On Thursday, after the U.S. sailed the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer
near the Paracel Islands, China said its navy and air force had forced the
American vessel away, a claim the U.S. military denied.
The U.S. on Friday sailed the ship again in the vicinity of the islands,
which are occupied by China but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, as part of
what it called a "freedom of navigation operation" challenging requirements
from all three nations requiring either advance notification or permission
before a military vessel sails by.
"Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious
threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and
overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic
opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations," said U.S. 7th Fleet
spokesman Lt. j.g. Luka Bakic in an emailed statement.
"The United States challenges excessive maritime claims around the world
regardless of the identity of the claimant," Bakic added.
China's Ministry of National Defense responded by accusing the U.S. of
"undermining the peace and stability of the South China Sea" with its actions.
"The act of the U.S. military seriously violated China's sovereignty and
security, severely breached international laws, and is more ironclad evidence
of the U.S. pursuing navigation hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea,"
ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said. "We solemnly request that the US.
immediately stop such actions of provocation, otherwise it will bear the
serious consequences of unexpected incidents caused by this."
He said China would take "all necessary measures" to ensure its security but
did not elaborate.
Like its statement on the Thursday incident, China again said it drove the
American ship away from the islands, which are in the South China Sea a few
hundred kilometers (miles) off the coast of Vietnam and the Chinese province of
Both sides said their actions were justified under international law.
Bakic told The Associated Press that the ship "was not driven away" and
"continued on to conduct routine maritime security operations in international
waters" after concluding its mission near the Paracel Islands.
"The operation reflects our commitment to uphold freedom of navigation and
lawful uses of the sea for all nations," he said. "The United States will
continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as Milius
The U.S. has no South China Sea claims itself, but has deployed Naval and
Air Force assets for decades to patrol the strategic waterway, through which
around $5 trillion in global trade transits each year and which holds highly
valuable fish stocks and undersea mineral resources.
A United Nations-backed arbitration tribunal ruled in 2016 that the
historical claim from China on the waters had no legal basis under the 1982
U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas, and Washington maintains that freedom
of navigation and overflight of the waterway are in the American national
U.S. forces currently operate in the South China Sea daily, and have been
present for more than a century. China regularly responds angrily, accusing the
U.S. of meddling in Asian affairs and impinging upon its sovereignty.
China's claims have frequently brought it into conflict with other nations
in the region as well, and Filipino diplomats were expected to unleash a slew
of protests on Friday over China's recent targeting of a Philippine coast guard
ship with a powerful military laser and other aggressive behavior.