China threatens consequences for the actions of the US warship
BANGKOK — China threatened “serious consequences” on Friday after the US Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea for a second day, in what Beijing said was a violation of its sovereignty and security.
The warning comes amid rising tensions between China and the United States in the region as Washington pushes back against Beijing’s increasingly assertive stance in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its entirety.
On Thursday, after the United States sailed the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius near the Paracel Islands, China said its navy and air force had driven off the American vessel, a claim denied by the US military.
The United States again sailed the ship on Friday near islands occupied by China but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, as part of what it calls a “freedom of navigation” operation that challenges the claims of all three nations and requires progress by both sides. notice or permission before a military vessel sails.
“Illegal and expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including freedom of navigation and overflight, free trade and unhindered trade, and freedom of economic opportunity for nations bordering the South China Sea for,” U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Gen. Luka Bakic said in an emailed statement.
“The United States attacks excessive maritime claims worldwide, regardless of the person making the claim,” Bakic added.
China’s Ministry of National Defense responded by accusing the United States of “undermining the peace and stability of the South China Sea” with its actions.
“The US military’s action gravely violated China’s sovereignty and security, gravely violated international law, and is ironclad proof of the US’s maritime hegemony and militarization of the South China Sea,” ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said. “We solemnly request that the United States. stop such provocative actions immediately, otherwise you will bear the serious consequences of unexpected events arising from them.”
He said China would take “all necessary measures” for its security, but did not elaborate.
Similar to its statement on Thursday’s incident, China again said it chased the US ship away from the islands, which are in the South China Sea a few hundred kilometers off the coast of Vietnam and China’s Hainan province.
Both sides say their actions are justified under international law.
Bakic told The Associated Press that the ship was “not driven away” and “continued to conduct routine maritime security operations in international waters” after completing its mission near the Paracel Islands.
“The operation reflects our commitment to maintaining freedom of navigation and the lawful use of the sea for all nations,” he said. “The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate where international law allows, as Milius did today.”
The United States has no claim to the South China Sea, but for decades it has deployed naval and air force assets to guard the strategic waterway, which carries about $5 trillion in global trade annually and is home to highly valuable fish stocks and undersea mineral resources.
A United Nations-backed arbitration court ruled in 2016 that the historic claim to Chinese waters had no legal basis under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and Washington maintains that freedom of navigation and overflight of the waterways is a US national interest.
US forces are currently operating daily in the South China Sea and have been for more than a century. China regularly responds angrily, accusing the United States of meddling in Asian affairs and violating its sovereignty.
China’s demands have often drawn it into conflict with other nations in the region, and Philippine diplomats were expected to draw several protests on Friday over China’s recent targeting of a Philippine coast guard ship with a powerful military laser and other aggressive behavior.