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China warns US after tracking warship in South China Sea

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-01-20
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The USS Benfold Photograph: US Navy/Reuters

The Chinese military has said it tracked a US warship that sailed through disputed waters in the South China Sea , accusing it of “provocative actions” and warning of “serious consequences”.

The US Navy said its mission was in accordance with international law and in line with its commitment to defend “every nation’s right to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows”.

On Thursday afternoon a spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army’s southern theatre command said the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer, “illegally entered China’s Xisha territorial waters without the approval of the Chinese government”.

The spokesperson, Col Tian Junli, said China’s navy and air forces were engaged to track and monitor the ship and give an “eviction” warning.

Related: South China Sea: alarm in Philippines as 200 Chinese vessels gather at disputed reef

“We solemnly demand that the US side immediately stop such provocative actions, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of unforeseen events,” a statement from theatre command said.

In a responding statement, the US Navy said China’s statement was “false”.

The Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracels, are disputed islands in the South China Sea. China, Vietnam and Taiwan all claim sovereignty, but China holds practical control.

China has established military infrastructure on the island chain, which “plays a key role in China’s goal of establishing surveillance and power projection capabilities throughout the South China Sea,” according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

The South China Sea, which is crossed by vital shipping lanes and also contain gas fields and rich fishing grounds, is a significant flashpoint in tensions between China and its regional neighbours, and with the US.

The US frequently carries out what it calls “freedom of navigation” missions in the South China Sea to challenge Chinese territorial claims. It said the USS Benfold on Thursday asserted “navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law”.

Related: Satellite images show China has built mock-ups of US warships

“At the conclusion of the operation, USS Benfold exited the excessive claim and continued operations in the South China Sea,” it said, in apparent reference to China’s claim of a straight maritime boundary around the islands, which the US has accused China of declaring in an attempt to claim more waters and territory than it is entitled to under international law.

“The United States is defending every nation’s right to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as USS Benfold did this week. Nothing PRC [People’s Republic of China] says otherwise will deter us,” it said.

“The PLA southern theatre’s statement is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to misrepresent lawful US maritime operations and assert its excessive and illegitimate maritime claims at the expense of its south-east Asian neighbours in the South China Sea.”

Bill Hayton, the author of South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia , said the US mission was part of a pattern of freedom of navigation operations.

“The Americans aren’t doing anything that they haven’t done before, but of course China will call it provocative given everything else that is going on their relationship,” Hayton said. “Ironically, the more that China maintains these ‘baselines’, the more they attract American and even British warships to challenge them.”

Comments / 670

phil59
01-20

all you people said Trump was going to start world War 3 but Trump is the only president not to start a new conflict since Carter. but Biden probably going to start a war. didn't he say war is bound to happen.

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ch
01-20

China attacked the US and the world with the release of this virus, and  even now refuses to be honest about how or why it developed this virus. WHO and American progressives were part of this  attack. Obam/ biden transferred the technology to China and paid for it's development in Wuhan.Was it part of a biological weapons program? Was it released as a result of sloppy lab practices? Why is Hunter Biden  profiting from it, and why did Gates  know about it  before it happened? All of these are questions that must be answered. China is an international pariah and can never be trusted till a fair and independent investigation answers these questions.

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Raymond Lynn
01-20

remember not long ago when we had a real American president and at least some American soldiers left? now since our surrender January 6th were all dead

Reply(14)
65

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