Sun, Dec 02, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Beijing lashes out at the US for South China Sea sail-by

AFP, BEIJING

China on Friday scolded the US for sending naval vessels close to disputed islands in the South China Sea on which Beijing has built military installations.

The US and its allies periodically send planes and warships through the area to conduct “freedom of navigation” operations, intended as a signal to Beijing of their right under international law to pass through the waters claimed by China.

The Pentagon said that the USS Chancellorsville guided-missile destroyer on Monday sailed near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”

The Chinese military scrambled aircraft and warships, sending out warnings for the US vessel to leave the area.

“We urge the US to strengthen the management of its vessels and aircraft that pass by Chinese territory to prevent unexpected events,” People’s Liberation Army Southern Theatre spokesman Li Huamin (李華敏) said in a statement.

China has also lodged a diplomatic complaint with Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said during a regular media briefing, calling on the US to “immediately stop such provocative actions that violate China’s sovereignty.”

The Paracel Islands are claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam and China.

It was the second US naval operation to irk China this week.

Two US ships on Wednesday sailed through the Taiwan Strait — which China considers its territory, but the US and others see as international waters open to all — prompting a furious Beijing to send warships and fighter jets. This was the third such operation this year, including one last month which prompted a diplomatic protest.

“US Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including the South China Sea,” the Pentagon statement read. “All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”

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