Published: Wed, February 13, 2019

USA warships again challenge Beijing's claims in South China Sea

USA warships again challenge Beijing's claims in South China Sea

President Donald Trump said he's open to extending a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese products if the two sides are near an agreement, sending a conciliatory signal amid talks to resolve the trade war between the world's two biggest economies. He noted "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

Two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers - the USS Spruance and the USS Preble - conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation on Monday, sailing within 12 nautical miles of Chinese outposts in the contested Spratly Islands.

But Hua slammed the USA, arguing that "China has indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal, Mischief Reef, and the adjacent waters".

During a South China Sea freedom-of-navigation operation in September, a Chinese destroyer challenged a US vessel to a showdown, forcing the US Navy ship off course and risking a deadly collision. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam.

Shortly after that operation, China accused the United States of trespassing in its territorial waters - and said it had deployed missiles "capable of targeting medium and large ships".

"U.S. Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea", Doss said in a statement.


The USS Spruance was one of the warships which conducted the operation, which illustrates the continuing USA military presence in the area, to which China routinely objects.

"We respect all countries' right for freedom of navigation and flight under global law, but we firmly oppose any action to jeopardize the sovereignty and security of countries under the pretext of freedom of navigation", Hua said Monday.

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

China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs. China has developed a military infrastructure, including long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles, on what had been low-lying reefs.

China's foreign ministry struck a confident tone yesterday as a junior delegation of American negotiators arrived in Beijing.

It has claimed the U.S. is responsible for ratcheting up war fears in the region by sending warships and military planes close to territory China believes it is entitled to.

Like this: