Chinese forces followed and warned away a US warship that entered waters near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) in the South China Sea, China’s military said yesterday, in the latest uptick in tensions in the disputed waterway.
The Southern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army said the USS Benfold “illegally” sailed into Chinese territorial waters without permission, infringing upon the country’s sovereignty, and that Chinese naval and air forces tracked the ship.
“We solemnly demand that the US side immediately stop such provocative actions, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of unforeseen events,” it added.
The US Navy rejected claim.
The Benfold was conducting what the navy called a freedom of navigation operation “in accordance with international law,” and “continued on to conduct normal operations in international waters,” 7th Fleet spokesman Mark Langford said in a statement.
The US frequently carries out “freedom of navigation” missions in the South China Sea to challenge Chinese territorial claims.
China has established military outposts on artificial islands in the waters, which include vital shipping lanes, and contain gas fields and rich fishing grounds.
The South China Sea has become one of many flashpoints in the testy relationship between China and the US, with Washington rejecting what it calls unlawful territorial claims by Beijing.
China claims vast swaths of the South China Sea. Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines all have overlapping claims.
India yesterday summoned Canada’s high commissioner in India to “convey strong concern” over Sikh protesters in Canada and how they were allowed to breach the security of India’s diplomatic mission and consulates. Canadian media reported that hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Indian consulate in Vancouver on Saturday over demands for an independent Sikh state, a simmering issue for decades that was triggered again in the past few weeks. Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India. “It is expected that the Canadian government will take all steps which are required to ensure the
CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS: The US destroyer’s routine operations in the South China Sea would have ‘serious consequences,’ the defense ministry said China yesterday threatened “serious consequences” after the US Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) in the South China Sea for the second day in a row, in a move Beijing claimed was a breach of its sovereignty and security. The warning came amid growing tensions between China and the US in the region, as Washington pushes back at Beijing’s growingly assertive posture in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its entirety. On Thursday, after the US sailed the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer near the Paracel Islands, China said its navy and
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