China threatens consequences of actions of US warships

China threatened “serious consequences” on Friday after the US Navy sailed a destroyer around the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea for the second day in a row, in a move Beijing called a violation of its sovereignty and of his safety.

The warning comes amid growing tensions between China and the United States, as Washington pushes back against Beijing’s increasingly assertive position in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway it claims virtually in its entirety. .

On Thursday, after the United States sailed the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer near the Paracel Islands, China said its navy and air force chased the American vessel away, a claim denied by the US military.

On Friday, the United States sailed the ship again near the islands, which are occupied by China but also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, in what it called a “freedom of navigation operation”. “defying the requirements of the three nations requiring either advance notification or authorization before the passage of a military vessel.

Paracel Islands

“The illegal and extensive maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unfettered commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for nations bordering the South China Sea,” 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Jg Luka Bakic said in an emailed statement.

“The United States challenges excessive maritime claims around the world, regardless of the identity of the claimant,” Bakic said.

China’s Ministry of National Defense responded by accusing the United States of “undermining the peace and stability of the South China Sea” through its actions.

“The act of the US military has seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, seriously violated international laws, and is more compelling evidence that the United States is pursuing shipping hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea. southern region,” ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said. “We solemnly request that the United States immediately cease such provocative actions, otherwise it will suffer the serious consequences of unexpected incidents caused by this.”

He said China would take “all necessary measures” to ensure his safety, but did not give details.

As in its statement on the incident on Thursday, China again said it chased the US vessel from the islands, which lie in the South China Sea a few hundred kilometers off the coast of Vietnam and Province of China. from Hainan.

Both sides said their actions were justified under international law.

Bakic told The Associated Press that the vessel “was not chased away” and “continued to conduct routine maritime security operations in international waters” after concluding its mission near the Paracel Islands.

“The operation reflects our commitment to defend freedom of navigation and lawful uses of the sea for all nations,” he said. “The United States will continue to fly, navigate and operate wherever international law permits, as Milius did today.”

The United States does not claim the South China Sea, but has deployed naval and air assets for decades to patrol the strategic waterway, through which an estimated $5 trillion of global trade passes each year and which holds stockpiles of fish and valuable underwater mineral resources.

A United Nations-backed arbitration tribunal ruled in 2016 that China’s historic claim to the waters had no legal basis under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and Washington argues that freedom of navigation and overflight of the waterway is in the American national interest.

US forces currently operate daily in the South China Sea and have been present for more than a century. China regularly responds angrily, accusing the United States of meddling in Asian affairs and encroaching on its sovereignty.

China’s claims have frequently brought it into conflict with other nations in the region. Philippine diplomats sparked a series of protests on Friday over China’s recent targeting of a Philippine Coast Guard vessel with a powerful military laser and other aggressive behavior.

USA voanews

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