Beijing sent a warship, fighter jets and a helicopter to chase off a US Navy destroyer after it sailed past disputed islands in the South China Sea, it has emerged.
Chinese military chiefs said the USS Chafee had infringed on the country’s sovereignty and security with its “provocation” as it neared the Paracel Islands.
America’s operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, according to Daily Mail.
China, angered by the mission, responded immediately on Tuesday by dispatching its own navy and air force to warn the US ship to leave, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
It comes as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks Chinese cooperation in reining in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.
Hua said: "The US vessel action violated Chinese laws and relevant international laws, undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests.
"China is firmly opposed to that and has lodged stern representations with the US,’ Hua added, using the term for official diplomatic protests.
China’s defence ministry warned it would now further strengthen its naval and air defenses.
If confirmed by the United States, it would be the fourth “freedom of navigation” operation (FONOP) carried out by the US Navy since President Donald Trump took office in January.
A US defence ministry spokesman refused to confirm the manoeuvre.
But he said all operations are conducted in accordance with international law and “demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows”.
“We are continuing regular FONOPS, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan said in a statement.
The US Navy regularly carries out such operations to challenge China’s vast claims to the South China Sea, where Beijing has turned reefs into militarised artificial islands.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim territory in the vast sea.
However, Hua said: “The Chinese government will continue to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime entitlements. We urge the US to respect Chinese sovereignty and security interests.”
The latest US sail-past was not as provocative as previous ones carried out since Trump took office in January.
Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chafee, a guided-missile destroyer, carried out normal maneuvering operations among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbours.
Next month, Trump makes his first visit to Asia as president, including a stop in China, which he has been pressuring to do more to rein in North Korea. China is North Korea’s neighbour and biggest trading partner.
Unlike in August, when a U.S. Navy destroyer came within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, officials said the destroyer on Tuesday sailed close to but not within that range of the islands.
Twelve nautical miles mark internationally recognised territorial limits. Sailing within that range is meant to show the United States does not recognise territorial claims.
Nothing new, just typical provocations begun during the Obama administration.
Typical provocations? All countries are allowed to operate in international waters. China, keeps building land mass in international waters in order to expand their borders, then they cry foul when someone gets too close. Those borders and land masses are not internationally recognized as territory of China.
None of that is relevant to my point that the US is engaged in deliberate provocations. Countries do what’s in their own best interests not what another thinks is “right”.
So are you saying that China is a completely innocent bystander here?
I’m saying that not unlike the United States, China is acting in the interests of its own needs even if that is at others expense. Surely you don’t need examples.
China needs a swift kick in the dick. Obama let the Chinese get away with hacking the US government, currency manipulation, and territorial expansion. China is nothing but a paper tiger and should be treated as such.
And how many times has the US engaged in imperial expansion! For Christ’s sake can you at least make an attempt to disguise your hypocrisy. Apparently you guys haven’t been paying attention to the military build up and modernization in China the last dozen years. Kicking China in the dick won’t look anything like kicking Hussein or Gaddafi in the dick.
Judging from the foreign-policy commentary produced and consumed in the United States, you’d think the South China Sea lay just off America’s East Coast. Every Chinese move in disputed maritime territories is analyzed as though it’s an existential threat to America’s lifelines.
But the reality is that U.S. core interests are not really at stake, and China knows it.