Chinese defence ministry slams 'provocation' by USA warships in South China Sea

Chinese defence ministry slams 'provocation' by USA warships in South China Sea

Chinese defence ministry slams 'provocation' by USA warships in South China Sea

According to U.S. officials, this time, the Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands.

United States military vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels, one of the officials said.

Last week, Chinese bombers landed on islands and reefs claimed by the Philippines, prompting Manila to take "appropriate diplomatic action" on the matter.

Washington has said it would like to see more worldwide participation in its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, through which about $5trn of ship-borne trade passes each year.

The US military conducts what it calls "freedom of navigation" voyages in the South China Sea to contest Beijing's assertion of territorial rights in the area, although the US has no claims of its own in the disputed region.

China's military, he said, would be "firm and unwavering in its determination to strengthen sea and air operational preparedness construction" on the islands.

The statement added that sucgh routine and regular operations "are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements".

US sends warships near disputed island in South China Sea: report | TheHill

The US Navy has pledged to continue regularly sending warships and jets to the South China Sea, openly defying China's accusations of violating its sovereignty.

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.

China has recently shored up its claims to disputed islands and reinforced military bases in both the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

"China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region", a Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, said. He said that the US Navy operated strictly within the worldwide rules, exercising the freedom of navigation.

In another statement by China's Foreign Ministry, it told the USA to stop such military exercises.

State-run news agency Xinhua said the two vessels were "expelled" from the waters.

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