U.S. destroyer sailing near South China Sea sends China fuming
SOUTH CHINA SEA — China has lodged stern complaints with the U.S. after an American navy vessel conducted patrols near disputed islands in the South China Sea.
According to the spokesperson for the U.S. Pacific fleet, the USS McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the China-claimed Paracel Islands as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation. It was reportedly done to "challenge excessive maritime claims."
China responded by dispatching military aircraft and naval vessels to identify the U.S. destroyer and warn it to leave the area.
According to Al Jazeera, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang claims the U.S. ship "violated Chinese and international law, infringed on chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace and stability."
The South China Sea has long been contentious. Several countries have competing claims based on their exclusive economic zones, but China claims the entire body based on historic rights, using a nine-dash line to demarcate its territory.
Since 2013, China has been building artificial islands in both the Paracels and Spratlys to bolster its claim.
Washington has also expressed opposition over Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea, and its addition of military installations like radars and airstrips to islands and reefs.
China has defended the construction as necessary for self defense, alleging that the U.S. is the one to blame for heightening tensions in the area with their patrols.
This latest incident comes as talks between the two sides get underway in Beijing, following a 90-day truce on a bitter trade war that saw import tariffs imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods.
NEXT ON TOMONEWS
Chinese admiral warns Beijing can sink U.S. aircraft carriers