World

China warns USA vessels to leave disputed waters

China warns USA vessels to leave disputed waters

Chinese defence chiefs have said United States warships entered the waters and did not leave when warned by Beijing's warships and aircraft.

The chief spokesman for China's Ministry of National Defense, Senior Col. Wu Qian, said the American military had "seriously violated China's sovereignty, [and] undermined strategic mutual trust".

Two U.S. warships sail by China's military bases in the South China Sea in protest of recent power moves by China's military.

The U.S. warships were carrying out "freedom of navigation" operations, also called FONOPS, which the Navy says are a means to challenge excessive maritime claims and uphold rights to use of the sea under global law.

A spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, Cmdr Clay Doss, did not discuss the details of the Chinese challenge but said that in 2017, USA warships conducted similar operations in the waters of 22 different countries, including allies of the United States.

USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency that two military vessels came within 12 nautical miles (around 22km) of the disputed Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbours.

Earlier in May, the USA chose to cancel its invitation to China to participate in the maritime 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) drills because of the South China Sea's "militarization", after several Chinese Air Force bombers landed on islands and reefs in the area.




The two U.S. warships involved on Sunday were carrying out manoeuvre known as "freedom of navigation operations".

"China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend the country's sovereignty and security", it added, without elaborating.

China has been deploying serious military power to the region - including constructing manmade islands bristling with missiles.

China is one of the main parties to claim ownership of certain islands in the South China Sea. China's behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise'.

'China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region, ' Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan said.

Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing their country in suspicious, "Cold War" terms.


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