Chinese defence ministry slams 'provocation' by U.S. warships in South China Sea
May 29, 2018, 00:29
China's defence ministry has protested against what it called "provocation" after United States warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by Beijing.
The US vessels - the Higgins, a destroyer, and the Antietam, a cruiser - passed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, an archipelago in the northern part of the disputed waters of the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam.
They carried out maneuvering-operations near Tree, Triton and Woody islands.
US warships 'seriously infringed' on China – Beijing military chiefs | Daily Star
Citing Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, the statement said the US warships "undermined strategic mutual trust between the two militaries and damaged peace, security and good order in relevant waters".
In a statement, ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Chinese navy vessels were deployed "to conduct legal identification and verification of the USA warships and warn them off".
China's foreign minister said China had a right to take whatever measures it deemed fit on its island holdings, and the defence ministry criticized the US move as "unconstructive", saying it would do nothing to change China's resolve to "play a role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region".
It added: "China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend the country's sovereignty and security".
"US forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea", Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said.
The move signals United States rejection of China's claims of political control in the South China Sea. The island has hosted multi-role fighters, surface-to-air missiles, and anti-ship cruise missiles.
The move prompted immediate criticism from the U.S., which last week pulled its invitation to China to join maritime exercises in the Pacific because of Beijing's "continued militarisation" of the South China Sea.
China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion (3.75 trillion pounds) in shipborne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
'We have disinvited the PLA Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise.
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