A U.S. warship conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea near the Parcel Islands the day after China claimed it had driven the ship out of its territorial waters, the U.S. 7th Fleet said on Friday.
uss Milius (DDG-69) sailed near the Parcel Islands and then into the South China Sea, according to the press release. On Thursday, a Chinese spokesman said PLA forces drove out the guided missile destroyer after it sailed into its territorial waters. The US Navy denied these allegations.
“This freedom of navigation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms and legitimate uses of the sea as recognized under international law by challenging restrictions on innocent passage imposed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan and Vietnam, and also by the PRC’s claim to straight baselines encircling the Paracel Islands is called into question,” the release said.
Claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, the parcel islands will require authorization or notification before a warship is allowed to sail through the waters around them, according to the press release.
The People’s Republic of China has just claimed baselines around the islands, according to the press release, in what the United States sees as a violation of international maritime law.
“By conducting this operation, the United States has demonstrated that these waters lie beyond what the PRC can legitimately claim as its territorial sea, and that the PRC claims that precisely baselines around the Paracel Islands are inconsistent with international law are,” the press release said.
Milius was in the Sea of Japan earlier this week conducting an exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force JS Atago (DDG-177).
In a statement on Friday, Chinese authorities protested the operation.
“The act of the US military has seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, grossly violated international laws and is another ironclad proof that the US is seeking maritime hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea,” ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said , in a statement on Friday.
“We solemnly call upon the United States. to stop such provocative actions immediately, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of the unexpected incidents caused by it.”
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