China strongly dissatisfied by US warships entering South China Sea

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 12, 2019

As U.S. -China trade negotiations resumes with deputy level meetings, the two countries are trying to hammer out a deal before the March 1 deadline.

Two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers - the USS Spruance and the USS Preble - conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation on Monday, sailing within 12 nautical miles of Chinese outposts in the contested Spratly Islands.

Doss confirmed the sailings to CNN. All operations are designed in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows.

The US is "determined to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, create tension and undermine peace", Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing.

Mischief Reef is one of seven artificial islands built up by China over the last five years.

Beijing asserts almost all of the South China Sea as its territorial waters. The United States has criticised China for militarising the islands by constructing long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles.

During a South China Sea freedom-of-navigation operation in September, a Chinese destroyer challenged a US vessel to a showdown, forcing the US Navy ship off course and risking a deadly collision.

"Under such circumstances, the USA insistence on provocation, creating tensions and destroying the peace and stability of the South China Sea is unpopular", she said in a report by the South China Morning Post. 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. "FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements".

China has criticized both encounters.

Said Doss: "U.S. Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea".

In October, the destroyer USS Decatur had to maneuver to avoid a collision with a Chinese warship that came within 45 yards of its bow.

During that operation, a Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of the United States warship, forcing it to maneuver to avoid a collision.

Speaking on background, a US official said the Navy ships passed near Mischief Reef, which China has augmented with a huge land reclamation project and equipped with missiles, extensive surveillance equipment, and a military-grade airfield, even though the reef is also claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

If the sides can not reach an agreement by March 1, when a 90-day tariffs truce ends, the Trump administration has said it will raise tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

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