China strongly dissatisfied by US warships entering South China Sea

12 Février, 2019, 02:28 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

The USS Spruance and USS Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands as part of what the US Navy calls a "freedom of navigation operation", CNN reported. A spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, accused the USA of entering Chinese waters without permission and engaging in provocations that threaten China's sovereignty, the South China Morning Post reported.

The US sailed two guided-missile destroyers close to the disputed islands in the South China Sea on Monday to challenge China's excessive maritime claim, drawing the ire of Beijing which accused Washington of trying to "stir up trouble".

She urged the United States to cease the "provocative actions".

China firmly opposed the relevant action and urged the U.S.to immediately stop its provocations, Hua stressed.

The US and its allies periodically send planes and warships near South China Sea islands and reefs claimed by Beijing to signal their right under global law to pass through the waters, invariably angering China.

The Trump administration is demanding far-reaching changes from China to address commercial practices that it says are deeply unfair, including theft of American intellectual property and myriad barriers that U.S. and other foreign companies face in the Chinese domestic market.

Aerial view on the The Spratly Islands, one of the major archipelagos in the South China Sea.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.

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An unnamed USA official told Reuters on Monday that the two destroyers conducted a freedom of navigation exercise - the second by the U.S. in the region this year - within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, where Beijing has purportedly built military facilities.

Tensions came to the fore in September, when a Chinese warship and US destroyer came within 45 yards of collision in the waters, renewing concerns about the risk of US-China confrontation.

China's claims to the South China Sea were largely discredited by an worldwide arbitration tribunal three years ago.

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.

The two countries have traded barbs over what USA said was Beijing's military installation building on artificial islands and reefs.

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.

The two countries are also at odds over regional security, including Washington's overtures to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

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