Just days before Trump’s meeting with the Chinese president in Hamburg later this week for the G-20 summit, the Trump administration sent a guided-missile destroyer near Triton Island in the South China Sea, Bloomberg reported, a move “which may cause concern ahead of President Donald Trump’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart.”
According to an anonymous official cited by Bloomberg, the U.S. Navy sent the destroyer USS Stethem within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Triton Island on Sunday, passing through the contested waters on the basis of “innocent passage.”
It was the second such operation conducted by the US during Donald Trump’s presidency. On May 24, the US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Dewey, came within 12 miles of the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, another disputed archipelago that lies in the southern part of the South China Sea. At that time, the Chinese Defense Ministry also sent two frigates to “warn off” the US vessel and said that it was “firmly opposed to the US behavior of showing force and boosting regional militarization.”
And while in recent weeks China has shown remarkable restraint in not responding, or retaliating, to US escalations today Beijing finally reacted instantly and with “outrage” with People’s Daily reporting that China deployed military vessels and warplanes to “warn off” the USS Stethem, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang.
“Under the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation,’ the US side once again sent a military vessel into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China’s approval,” the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that such US behavior “has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China’s sovereignty, disrupted peace, security and order of the relevant waters and put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands, and thus constitutes a serious political and military provocation.”
“The Chinese side is dissatisfied with and opposed to the relevant behavior of the US side,” Lu added.
Escalating matter further, China’s foreign ministry also accused the US of “deliberatrely stirring up troubles” in the contested waters and warned Washington to “immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China’s sovereignty.”“Working together, China and ASEAN member states have cooled down and improved the situation in the #SouthChinaSea. The US, who deliberately stirs up troubles in the South China Sea, is running in the opposite direction from countries in the region who aspire for stability, cooperation and development,” Lu added.
“The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China’s sovereignty and threaten China’s security. The Chinese side will continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security,” the statement reads.
The head of US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, recently criticized China’s activity in the region. “China is using its military and economic power to erode the rules-based international order,” he said in a speech delivered on Wednesday in Brisbane during the joint US-Australian military exercises.
“Fake islands should not be believed by real people,” he added, as reported by Fox News.
Full article: China Sends Warships, Fighter Jets to Intercept U.S. Destroyer in South China Sea (SouthFront)