The United States (US) Navy’s 7th Fleet denied on Tuesday Beijing’s statement about an intrusion of a US missile cruiser Chancellorsville into Chinese waters.
Earlier in the day, Chinese army spokesman Tian Junli said that a US missile cruiser entered the waters off the disputed Spratly Islands, also known as the Nansha Islands, without Beijing’s permission in what could be another evidence of Washington’s intention to militarize the South China Sea.
“On November 29, 2022, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands, consistent with international law. At the conclusion of the operation, USS Chancellorsville exited the excessive claim area and continued operations in the South China Sea,” the 7th Fleet said in a statement.
The fleet added that “unlawful and sweeping maritime claims” in the South China Sea posed a serious threat to the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade, and unimpeded commerce, as well as to freedom of economic opportunity for the coastal states of the South China Sea.
Beijing has long been disputing ownership of several hydrocarbon-rich islands in the South China Sea with several Asia-Pacific countries. The territories include the Paracel Islands, also known as the Xisha or the Hoang Sa archipelago, the Spratly Islands, and the island of Huangyan, also known as the Scarborough Shoal.
In July 2016, following a lawsuit filed by the Philippines, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China had no grounds for territorial claims in the South China Sea.
According to the court, the disputed territories of the Spratly archipelago are not considered islands in the legal sense but rather rocks or low-tide elevations which do not form an exclusive economic zone. Beijing, in turn, said that it did not consider the decision of the court valid and did not recognize it.
The situation in the sea region is often complicated by the passage of US warships, which, according to Beijing, violate international law and undermine China’s sovereignty and security. Despite protests from Beijing, Washington has said that US forces will continue to operate wherever international law allows, including the South China Sea.
A US missile cruiser on Tuesday entered the waters off the disputed Spratly Islands, also known as the Nansha Islands, which China considers as its own territory, without Beijing’s permission in what could be another evidence of Washington’s intention to militarize the South China Sea, Chinese army spokesman Tian Junli said.
The Chinese navy immediately escorted the US cruiser out of the waters and warned it to leave the area, Tian, who serves in the Southern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army, said in a statement posted on the WeChat social network.
The actions of the US military seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, which proves the US desire to dominate shipping in the region, the spokesman added. The incident also demonstrates that Washington is a real source of security threats in the South China Sea, according to Tian.
He recalled that Beijing had undeniable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and adjacent waters, and therefore the Chinese forces maintained a state of high alert at all times to ensure peace and stability in the region.
- Via Sputnik News Agency
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