China warns US after tracking down warship in South China Sea | South China Sea

China warns US after tracking down warship in South China Sea | South China Sea

The Chinese military has said it tracked down a U.S. warship sailing through disputed waters in the country South China Seaaccuses it of “provocative acts” and warns of “serious consequences”.

The U.S. Navy said its mission was in accordance with international law and in accordance with its obligation to defend “any nation’s right to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows”.

On Thursday afternoon, a spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command said that the USS Benfold, a guided missile destroyer, “entered China’s Xisha territorial waters illegally without the approval of the Chinese government.”

The spokesman, Colonel Tian Junli, said China’s navy and air forces were engaged to track and monitor the ship and issue a “postponement warning”.

“We solemnly demand that the American side immediately stop such provocative acts, otherwise they will bear the serious consequences of unforeseen events,” it said in a statement from the theater command.

In a responding statement, the U.S. Navy said China’s statement was “false.”

The Xisha Islands, also known as Paracels, are disputed islands in the South China Sea. China, Vietnam and Taiwan all claim sovereignty, but China has the practical control.

China has established military infrastructure on the island chain, which “plays a key role in China’s goal of establishing surveillance and power projection capabilities throughout South China Sea“according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

The South China Sea, which is crossed by vital shipping routes and also contains gas fields and rich fishing grounds, is a significant hotspot in tensions between China and its regional neighbors and with the United States.

The United States often conducts what it calls “freedom of navigation” missions in the South China Sea to challenge Chinese territorial claims. It said the USS Benfold on Thursday claimed “navigation rights and freedoms near the Paracel Islands, in accordance with international law”.

“At the end of the operation, the USS Benfold abandoned the excessive demand and continued operations in the South China Sea,” it said, apparently referring to China’s claim of an equal maritime border around the islands, which the United States has accused China of declaring. in an attempt to claim more waters and territory than it is entitled to under international law.

“The United States is defending the right of every nation to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as the USS Benfold did this week. No PRC [People’s Republic of China] saying something else will deter us, ”it said.

“The PLA Southern Theater’s statement is the latest in a long line of China’s actions to misrepresent legal US maritime operations and assert its excessive and illegitimate maritime claims at the expense of its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea.”

Bill Hayton, the author of South China Sea: The struggle for power in Asiasaid the U.S. mission was part of a pattern of free navigation operations.

“Americans are not doing something that they have not done before, but of course China will call it provocative given all the other things that are going on in their relationship,” Hayton said. “Ironically, the more China maintains these ‘baselines’, the more it attracts American and even British warships to challenge them.”

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