US warship sails close to Chinese language-controlled Paracel Islands | South China Sea Information
China’s military condemns the move of the USS John S. McCain, saying it sent naval and air units to follow and warn the ship.
A U.S. warship has sailed near the China-controlled Paracel Islands in the controversial South China Sea in a free shipping operation, the U.S. Navy said, the first such mission under President Joe Biden’s new administration.
China’s military condemned the move, saying it had dispatched naval and air units to follow the ship and warn it.
The busy waterway is one of several hot spots in US-China relations, including a trade war, US sanctions, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, a claim that the International Court of Justice in The Hague found unfounded.
China has been enraged by repeated US expeditions near the islands that Beijing occupies and controls in the South China Sea.
China has said it has irrefutable sovereignty and accused Washington of deliberately fueling tension.
“Freedom of Navigation”
The US Navy 7th Fleet said the destroyer USS John S. McCain had “exercised navigation rights and freedoms in accordance with international law” near the Paracel Islands.
Freedom of navigation upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging the “illegal restrictions on innocent crossings” imposed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said the ship entered the so-called territorial waters of the Paracels without permission and “seriously violated the sovereignty and security of China.”
It added that the US “is deliberately disrupting the South China Sea’s good atmosphere of peace, friendship and cooperation”.
China took full control of the Paracels in 1974 after a brief battle with South Vietnamese forces. Vietnam and Taiwan have continued to claim the islands.
Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines have claims to other parts of the South China Sea, where China has built artificial islands and air bases on some of them.
The same US ship that was involved in that mission earlier this week crossed the sensitive cross-strait and received an angry response from Beijing.
Last month, a strike group of US aircraft carriers entered the South China Sea to conduct routine operations, according to the Navy.