China strongly dissatisfied by USA warships entering South China Sea

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 11, 2019

Two US warships sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Monday (Feb 11), a US official told Reuters, a move likely to anger Beijing at a time of tense relations between the world's two biggest economies.

The two sides are trying to hammer out a deal ahead of a March 1 deadline when USA tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.

The American-side often doesn't announce such sail-bys in the South China Sea, where China's claims overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Monday's operation was carried out "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law", Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy's 7th Fleet, told CNN.

Communist superpower China claims ownership over nearly all of the South China Sea - frequently slamming the United States and its allies for naval operations in the territory. In January, China urged the halt "provocative actions" after a US guided-missile destroyer conducted sailed near the Paracel Islands, which are occupied by China and claimed by Vietnam. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands.

Why the South China Sea Fuels U.S.

In late September, the USS Decatur also sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands as part of a similar freedom of navigation operation. The US labeled the Chinese warship's actions unsafe and unprofessional, while Beijing said the US was threatening the safety and sovereignty of China.

The rising military tension comes against the backdrop of an increasingly bitter trade war between China and the US.

Beijing and Washington remain at loggerheads over U.S. allegations for China's militarisation of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs. The United States has criticised China for militarising the islands by constructing long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles.

China defends its construction as necessary for self-defence and says it is the U.S. that is responsible for ratcheting up tensions in the region by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.

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