China protests against USA warship sailing near disputed islands

Evrard Martin
Août 11, 2017

Or at least it was theoretically the third patrol, since the Pentagon has been rather coy about confirming it happened, and the Chinese have forgone their customary complaints.

Abella's statement was in response to the report of United States' (US) think tank, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), that China's reclamation efforts continue in the resource-rich South China Sea.

China's defence ministry said two Chinese warships "jumped into action" and warned the USA ship to leave, labelling the move a "provocation" that seriously harms mutual trust. The Philippine military is thought to have monitored the freedom of navigation operation from a marine base located in a marooned ship on a nearby shoal, which sounds like one of the less appealing postings a Filipino marine could draw.

The maneuvers came at a time when the U.S.is trying to secure China's help with reining in communist North Korea.

The South China Morning Post ran an editorial in late July denouncing us freedom of navigation patrols as "ineffective" because they don't seem to have influenced Beijing's behavior at all, and yet also "risky" because they might push Beijing too far.

United States officials confirmed that the USS John S. McCain had sailed to Mischief Reef. The significance of the distance of 12 nautical miles derives from the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which generally grants coastal states jurisdiction over seas within 12 nautical miles of the coast.

China has been ambiguous about its precise territorial claims around such artificial islands.

China has recently installed rocket launchers on a disputed island in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in order to fend off Vietnam's claims, according to a report.

"They called and said "please turn around, you are in our waters", the official said.

"We are continuing regular FONOPs, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future", he added.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not commented about the escalating crisis on its website, and its regular news briefings are in summer recess.

The USS John S McCain sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands on Thursday as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation, which prompted the Chinese navy to warn off the US destroyer.

He also insisted that such operations "seriously endanger lives". Nicole Schwegman said all Navy operations "are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

China insists that a much-delayed code of conduct between it and ASEAN members over the disputed sea must not be legally binding, a demand to which Southeast Asian countries have so far acquiesced.

"It is clear who is not willing to see stability in the South China Sea and who is the major factor pushing for militarisation in the South China Sea", the spokesperson said.

But China scoffed at the U.S., calling the move a "provocation" that could seriously damage the two countries' strategic trust and also create difficulties and obstacles for their defence forces, Reuters reported.

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