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Beijing Protests US Warship Operation in South China Sea

Beijing Protests US Warship Operation in South China SeaBeijing Protests US Warship Operation in South China Sea

Chinese officials reacted angrily to the presence of two US Navy warships in the South China Sea on Sunday, with a Defense Ministry spokesman calling it a “provocation” and “a serious infringement on China’s sovereignty.”

In a statement, the ministry said the military immediately dispatched naval ships and aircraft to “warn them off”, NBC News reported.

The confrontation occurred near the disputed Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China and its neighbors, amid escalating military tension between the United States and China and planning for an on again-off again summit over North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

Citing Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, the statement said the US warships “undermined strategic mutual trust between the two militaries and damaged peace, security and good order in relevant waters.”

A US defense official said the two warships—USS Antietam and USS Higgins—had been conducting a “freedom of navigation” operation near the Paracel Islands.

In a statement, the US Pacific Fleet said such operations “challenge excessive maritime claims and demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law.”

The statement added that such routine and regular operations “are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements.”

 

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