China protests U.S. 'freedom of navigation'

Patrice Gainsbourg
Agosto 12, 2017

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement that the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and worldwide law, undermined Chinese sovereignty and security, and endangered the safety of frontline personnel.

Although China opposes inclusion of the sea disputes in global conferences, partly to prevent the U.S. and other Western governments from intervening, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japan's new top diplomat, Taro Kono, expressed concern over aggressive actions in the waters.

The freedom of navigation operation was the third that the United States has carried out since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Thursday's operation, first reported by Reuters, was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, and comes as Trump is seeking China's cooperation to rein in North Korea.

Chinese navy guided missile frigates "took immediate action to identify and verify the USA ship, and warned and dispelled it", the Defense Ministry said. "The Chinese military is firmly opposed to such flaunting of force and promotion of militarization in the region by the United States, which could easily trigger accidents at sea and in the air".

Chinese authorities claim 90 percent of the area and have repeatedly said that the country's activities in the region are China's sovereign right.

"China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the United States side".

"The US military's provocative actions will only encourage the Chinese military to further strengthen the defence capacity building and firmly defend national sovereignty and security", Qian said.

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Territorial waters are generally defined by global law as extending at most 12 nautical miles from a country's coastline.

Earlier in July, China accused US Navy's USS Stethem destroyer of trespassing its territorial waters by sailing within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands. USA officials say the military will continue to sail, fly and operate wherever permitted by global law.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday the operations are being conducted "in accordance with worldwide law".

A US Navy official told The Associated Press that the destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed past Mischief Reef on Thursday but gave no details.

The country's Defense Ministry also lambasted the USA move, calling it a "provocative act" that had seriously damaged mutual trust. The operations, according to anonymous officials, were meant to challenge China's claim on trade routes now contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The Pentagon declined to provide any details but said that all operations are conducted in accordance with global law.

Trump this week warned North Korea it faced "fire and fury" if it continued to threaten America.

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