US sends destroyer near Paracel Islands angering China | South China Sea News


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The US says sailing near disputed islands was a ‘freedom of navigation operation’ while China calls it ‘illegal’.

China has condemned the United States’ decision to send a ship through northern South China Sea, near the Paracel Islands.

The USS Benfold travelled near the archipelago of more than 100 reefs and islands, which are occupied by China and claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, in a “freedom of navigation operation” the US said was necessary to assert rights and freedoms under international law in disputed waters.

“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” the US 7th Fleet said in a statement on Wednesday.

Beijing, which took control of the Paracels’ Woody Island in 1955, reacted angrily to the presence of the US destroyer. Woody IslandThe island chain’s most distinctive feature is its airport, which China built along with other facilities.

“On July 13, the U.S. guided missile destroyer “Benfold” illegally broke into China’s Paracel territorial waters without the approval of the Chinese government,” Tian Junli, the spokesperson for the Chinese military’s Southern Theatre Command, said in a statement.

The move “seriously damaged the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and seriously violated international law and the norms of international relations”, Tian said, according to Reuters news agency.

Tensions simmering in the South China Sea have been going on for many years. China claims it almost entirely.

Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan all claim the waters.

Manila lodged a legal challenge over Beijing’s actions in the sea in 2013 and the court in The Hague ruled three years later that China’s claim had no basisIn law

Beijing denies that it has recognized the decision and claims its so-called Historic rightsIts claims of sovereignty are based on the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

UNCLOS outlines the rights that countries can have from different geographical features at sea and governs maritime behavior. China and the Philippines are two of the 167 parties to UNCLOS that have signed and ratified it. Although the US has not ratified UNCLOS, it recognizes the instrument as customary international law.

In its statement, the US Navy 7th Fleet noted that China, Taiwan and Vietnam were all in breach of international law by requiring either permission or advance notification before a military vessel or warship engages in “innocent passage” through the waters around the Paracels.

It said the sailing by the USS Benfold was a challenge to such “unlawful restrictions”.


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