Two US Guided Missile Destroyers Sail By Islands Claimed By China
29 May, 2018, 00:29 | Author: Kim Reid
China's defense ministry said in a statement that two USA warships, the Antiem guided missile cruiser and the USS Higgins destroyer, entered disputed waters around the Paracel Islands before the Chinese navy intervened in what it considers to be a "serious infringement on China's sovereignty".
In a move likely to anger Beijing, the Higgins, a guided-missile destroyer, and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
One official said the USA military vessels conducted manoeuvers near the Lincoln, Triton, Tree and Woody islands in the Paracels.
The Chinese confronted the United States ships and warned them to leave, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement posted on its website, but other details of the encounter were not immediately clear.
In another statement by China's Foreign Ministry, it told the U.S. to stop such military exercises.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano provided on Monday more details of what President Rodrigo Duterte's administration has been doing to defend the country's sovereignty in the disputed region amid criticism that it has been far too soft on China.
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 claims the passage within the country's territory represents a violation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
China's military, he said, would be "firm and unwavering in its determination to strengthen sea and air operational preparedness construction" on the islands.
It was the latter act that caused Defense Secretary James Mattis to withdraw China's invitation to the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises.
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American warships will continue to be deployed in the region "on an everyday basis", Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told the Russian media on Sunday.
That drill was followed by live-fire military exercises on China's side of the Taiwan Strait.
State-run news agency Xinhua said the two vessels were "expelled" from the waters.
China has accused Washington of viewing Beijing in "Cold War" terms.
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