Alwaght- China's armed forces have warned off an intrusive US warship near disputed islands in the South China Sea, accusing the US of damaging the country’s sovereignty and security interests in the region.
China condemned the mission of the guided-missile destroyer USS ‘Chafee,’ which on Tuesday sailed within 16 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands also known as Xisha in Chinese in the South China Sea, within the framework of a so-called “freedom of navigation” operation.
“In the face of repeated provocation by the US forces, the Chinese military will further strengthen preparation for combat at sea and in the air and improve the defenses to resolutely defend national sovereignty and security interests,” China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, quoted by the South China Morning Post newspaper.
The guided-missile Type 054A frigate ‘Huangshan,’ two J-11B fighter jets and one Z-8 helicopter were sent to identify the US vessel and make it leave the waters.
The incident with the USS ‘Chafee’ would affect trust between the militaries of the two countries, the ministry stated, adding that further operations of such nature might trigger “unwanted incidents.”
China’s Foreign Ministry has also urged the US to “respect the sovereignty and security” of the country and stop such “erroneous acts.”
“The US destroyer’s behavior violated Chinese law and relevant international law, severely harmed China’s sovereignty and security interests, and threatened the lives of military personnel of both sides,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing.
US military officials claim the mission did not violate the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits carried out to challenge “excessive maritime claims” in the region.
Officials in Beijing say their country respects freedom of navigation and overflight in the East China Sea and South China Sea in accordance with international law.
China opposes any individual country using the banner of freedom of navigation and overflight to flaunt military force and harm China's sovereignty and security," China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in July.
Beijing insists that South China Sea islands are an integral part of China's territory adding that it retains the right to build facilities, including those for necessary defense purposes, on its own territory.