Beijing Warns US Over Navy Patrol in South China Sea

Jenna Warner
August 12, 2017

A "displeased" Beijing has slammed a US Navy destroyer's "freedom of navigation operation" near one of its artificial islands in the South China Sea, labelling the exercise a provocation.

The South China Sea is crucial for Chinese foreign trade, serving as a major transportation route for minerals, energy and Chinese-made goods.

The official told The Associated Press that Chinese vessels were in the vicinity when the USS John S. McCain sailed in a "routine" freedom of navigation operation near Mischief Reef Thursday.

The US supports neither nation's claims and insists that the sea should be a neutral space available for free navigation.

Mr. Trump has pushed China to use its influence to compel North Korea to stop its missile tests and nuclear weapons development.

The Guardian reported Friday a USA official said the Chinese frigate sent radio warning at least 10 times to the USS McCain.

More significantly, the latest United States naval patrol comes days after a meeting of China and ASEAN foreign ministers in the Philippines had agreed a framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea which is contested by multiple claimants including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

The reportedly concerned that China's construction of artificial islands and build-up of military facilities in the South China Sea are meant to restrict nautical movement in the area.

China has also constructed significant radar and sensor arrays on all three, positioning them close to point defense structures to provide protection against air or missile strikes.

On that occasion China accused America of "trespass" and deployed their military in a sabre-rattling attempt to scare the navy off.

The CSIS report said 64 per cent of China's maritime trade passed through the sea, compared to 14 per cent of USA maritime trade.

According to Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Beijing continues to reclaim in the Paracel Islands, the most recent examples are at Tree Island and North Island.

The US military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and they are separate from political considerations.

The US does not recognise China's claims to the area.

Firing back at criticism of China's activities, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Monday that China had "stopped or already completed land reclamation" on its holdings in the South China Sea two years ago.

The archipelago is claimed in its entirety by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines.

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan declined to comment on whether there had been a freedom of navigation operation, but said: "All operations are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

Other reports by Insurance News

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