US Navy disputes Chinese claims in South China Sea for second time in a week

A U.S The Navy warship on Saturday challenged China’s claims to disputed islands in the South China Sea, the US 7th Fleet said in a statement — the second operation of its kind this week.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold sailed near the Spratly Islands — known as China’s Nansha Islands — in the southeastern South China Sea in a so-called “freedom of navigation operation” (FONOP), the statement said. Fleet.

The US Navy operation in the island chain where China has built military fortifications on artificial islands and challenged “restrictions on innocent passage imposed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Vietnam and Taiwan,” the statement said.
The USS Benfold conducts operations in the Philippine Sea on July 16.
The USS Benfold conducts operations in the Philippine Sea on July 16. (CNN)

“In violation of international law, the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam and Taiwan claim to require authorization or advance notice before a military vessel makes an ‘innocent passage’ through the territorial sea of ​​the feature in question,” it added.

“Territorial sea” refers to the waters within 12 nautical miles of a country’s coastline as recognized by international law.

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The Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also claim sovereignty over parts of the Spratly Islands, but the US Navy statement does not state that the warship is disputing their claims.

Saturday’s operation was the fourth FONOP to challenge Chinese claims this year and the second such operation for the Benfold in the past four days, according to Navy statements.

On Wednesday, it conducted the same mission in the Paracel Islands, a chain in the northern South China Sea known as China’s Xisha Islands, which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

A reef in the disputed Spratly Islands on April 21, 2017.
A reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in 2017. (CNN)

Beijing reacted angrily to US Navy Paracels FONOP on Wednesday.

“The actions of the US military have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, seriously undermined the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and seriously violated international law and standards of international relations,” said Colonel Tian of the Air Force of the United States. the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Junli, spokesman for the Southern Theater Command, said in a statement.

The PLA said on Wednesday that the US Navy was ramping up tensions in the region.

“Facts show once again that the United States is a true ‘South China Sea risk maker’ and ‘disrupting regional peace and stability,'” the PLA statement said.

But Washington says the imposition of excessive maritime claims by China and others “poses a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded trade, and freedom of economic opportunity.”

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