US Vows To Continue S China Sea Patrols After Beijing's Warning

Elias Hubbard
July 4, 2017

Wu Qian, spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense, said in a statement that China had dispatched military vessels and fighter planes to warn the USA vessel.

The move prompted China to deploy military vessels and fighter jets, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement late Sunday, calling the U.S. operation a "serious political and military provocation".

Earlier Sunday, the missile destroyer USS Stethem trespassed into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands. On Sunday, a military spokesman wouldn't confirm the ship's route, only saying it routinely conducts freedom-of-navigation operations.

The warship had sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island as part of its "freedom of navigation" operations, according to news agencies and Fox News citing USA defence officials.

Beijing has called the presence of a USA warship near a disputed island in the South China Sea "a serious political and military provocation".

Trump has pressed Xi to use China's diplomatic and economic clout over North Korea to pressure the Stalinist state to abandon its nuclear programme, but the USA leader tweeted last month that Beijing's efforts had failed.

Washington's move "violated the Chinese law and relevant worldwide law, infringed upon China's sovereignty, disrupted peace, security and order of the relevant waters. and thus constitutes a serious political and military provocation".

In a related development that day, the leaders of China and the United States spoke in a scheduled call hours after relations came under renewed pressure as an American warship sailed near a disputed island in the South China Sea. "That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

China has constructed airstrips and hangars and protected harbors for the air and naval units in the Paracel Islands.

The various islands and waters are claimed in part or in whole by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The Trump administration has also approved an arms package for Taiwan worth about $1.4 billion.

It was the second U.S. "freedom of navigation" patrol in the South China Sea since Trump took office in January, an operation meant to assert the right to sail in disputed waters.

In Trump's first US Freedom of Navigation operation in May, the USS Dewey sailed near the Mischief Reef claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea, an act condemned by China. The report, titled "China's Big Three Near Completion", uses satellite imagery to detail new military and dual-use installations on three of the internationally contested Spratly Islands.

President Obama never wanted to get embroiled in the #South China Sea and he all but handed over control of the large sea to China.

Sunday's operation will may draw extra scrutiny given a series of other actions taken by the Trump administration in recent days that may be suggestive of a change in approach by the United States to the U.S.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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