China: US warship near island a ‘serious provocation’

al jazeera

China denounces a US move sailing a warship close to a disputed island occupied by Beijing in the South China Sea.

USS Stethem destroyer passes less than 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) from tiny Triton Island [File: Reuters]

China denounced a US warship sailing close to a disputed island in the South China Sea occupied by Beijing as a “serious political and military provocation”, a move that could further strain relations between the superpowers.

Beijing dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response to warn off the US vessel, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement late on Sunday night, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The USS Stethem destroyer passed less than 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) from tiny Triton Island in the Paracel Islands archipelago, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, a US official told AFP news agency.

The operation, meant to demonstrate freedom of navigation in disputed waters, came just hours before a previously scheduled phone call between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

READ MORE: Can China afford to challenge the United States?

“The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China’s sovereignty and threaten China’s security,” the Chinese spokesman said, adding that Beijing would continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security, according to Xinhua.

Twelve nautical miles marks the territorial limits recognised internationally. Sailing within those 12 miles is meant to show that the US does not recognise territorial claims there.

The operation is the second of its kind carried out by the US since Trump took office.

The first was on May 25, when the USS Dewey, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed less than 12 nautical miles from Mischief Reef – part of the disputed Spratly Islands south of the Paracel Islands.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, despite partial counter-claims from Taiwan and several southeast Asian nations including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

China has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

Freedom of navigation operations are designed to challenge the sovereignty of countries with claims to disputed territory. Washington has challenged annexations of South China Sea islets while advocating for a diplomatic settlement.

China has recently built up its facilities on Triton Island, including a new helicopter landing site, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank.

A large Chinese flag is displayed on the island, visible from aerial and satellite photos.

OPINION: When Xi Jinping met Donald Trump

Trump has heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping, but his administration has also stepped up pressure on Beijing as he has become frustrated that China has not done more to pressure North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes.

On Thursday, the administration imposed sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes and accused a Chinese bank of laundering money for Pyongyang.

The Trump administration has also approved an arms package for Taiwan worth about $1.4bn, the state department said last week. China deems Taiwan its own and has never renounced the use of force to bring the self-ruled island under its control.

Trump is due to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday in advance of meetings he will hold with both leaders on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, next Friday and Saturday.

Source: News agencies

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This entry was posted in Biển Đông (SCS), China - US relationship, Freedom of navigation, Paracels, US FON program and tagged , , , , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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