China says US destroyer has been warned for second day, US Navy said ship successfully challenged China’s maritime claims.
China’s defense ministry has said it has — for the second time — monitored and dislodged the US Navy-led missile destroyer USS Milius after it sailed into what Beijing claims as its territorial waters in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands.
Friday marked the second straight day of standoff — and heated talk — between the two superpowers amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.
“We strongly demand that the US immediately stop such provocative actions or it will bear the grave consequences of the unforeseen incidents,” a spokesman for China’s defense ministry said in a statement on Friday.
“The act of the US military has seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, has seriously violated international law, and is more of an ironclad proof that the US is pursuing navigational hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea,” the ministry spokesman said. , Tan Kefei.
He said China would take “all necessary measures” to ensure its territorial security, but did not elaborate.
The Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said in a statement Thursday that the USS Milius had been encountered in the waters around the Paracel Islands and that China’s navy and air force had been mobilized to “warn” the ship that left as it area.
The US Navy disputed the Chinese version of events, saying the destroyer left the area after completing a “routine operation”.
When China issued its second protest and warnings on Friday, the The US Navy has issued a lengthy statement specifying that the USS Milius had been engaged in asserting “navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, in accordance with international law”.
The freedom of navigation of the USS Milius was a lawful use of the sea, disputing “restrictions on innocent passage imposed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC)”, as well as Taiwan and Vietnam – which also have territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea, said the US Navy.
On March 24 (local time), the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, in accordance with international law.
— 7th Fleet (@US7thFleet) March 24, 2023
China, Taiwan and Vietnam all claim sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, the navy continued, and “in violation of customary international law, all three claimants require consent or prior notice before a military ship or warship has an ‘innocent passage’ through the territorial sea”.
“The United States is disputing outrageous maritime claims around the world, regardless of the plaintiff’s identity,” the Navy said.
“The operations demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits, regardless of the location of excessive maritime claims and regardless of current events,” it added.
The war of words is just the latest expression of the growing tension between US and Chinese forces deployed in the South China Sea.
In early January, China’s defense ministry accused the US of violating international law and of “slander and hype” after a confrontation between a Chinese fighter jet and a US reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.
The US military claimed that a Chinese J-11 fighter jet had come within six meters (20 feet) of the US RC-135 surveillance aircraft on December 21, forcing the latter to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision. China said the US plane was deliberately conducting close-in reconnaissance on China’s southern coast, so the People’s Liberation Army sent fighter jets to track and follow the plane.
Relations between the US and China have become increasingly strained recently, with friction growing between the world’s two largest economies over a range of issues, including the self-governing island of Taiwan, the shooting down of what the US described as a Chinese spy balloon – what Beijing denied – and the deepening of relations between Beijing and Moscow.