Published: Tue, February 12, 2019

U.S. warships again challenge China's claims in South China Sea

U.S. warships again challenge China's claims in South China Sea

The Arleigh Burke destroyers Spruance and Preble on Monday conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law", said Cmdr. When asked if the Navy's move would affect the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called it "a series of USA tricks, "according to Reuters".

A USA official said the warships had approached the islands on Monday to counter Chinese claims of domination over the entire South China Sea.

She demanded the USA "immediately stop its provocative actions" after the two U.S. guided-missile destroyers conducted what Washington called "freedom of navigation" exercises in the area. She argued that her nation has "always respected and safeguarded freedom of navigation and flight based on worldwide laws in the South China Sea, but resolutely opposes any country falsely using these [to] harm the sovereignty and security of coastal countries".

The alleged incursion by two USA warships into the internationally disputed waters of the South China Sea was the second such move within five weeks.

The US is "determined to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, create tension and undermine peace", Hua said.

Soybeans closed lower on Monday while grains were little changed amid pessimism about the ongoing trade talks between the US and China.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.


Tensions have been high for years between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea, with the USA regularly drawing Chinese ire. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell challenged China's claims to the Paracel Islands.

During that operation, a Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of the USA warship, forcing it to maneuver to avoid a collision.

"All operations are designed in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows", Doss said, adding "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

China defends its construction as necessary for self-defense and says it is the United States that is responsible for ratcheting up tensions in the region by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, as do several of its neighbors, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

The two countries are also at loggerheads over regional security, with the United States offering support to the island nation of Taiwan, which China also claims as its own.

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