China accuses US of trespassing after warship sailed near disputed shoal
China accuses US of trespassing after warship sailed near disputed shoal
GETTYDonald Trump is hoping China will help to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons program
20 January, 2018, 16:59
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saturday vowed "necessary measures" will be undertaken to safeguard the country's sovereignty after a USA warship entered waters surrounding Huangyan Island in the South China Sea, Xinhua reports.
In this latest clash over freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, the USS "Hopper" missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan Dao, a tiny island claimed by China, on January 17.
Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said a Chinese missile frigate moved to identify and verify the USA vessel and warned it to leave the area. The vessel failed to get Beijing's permission for entering the waters and was intercepted by the Chinese Navy, with China's Foreign Ministry accusing the U.S. of violating "sovereignty and security interests" as well as posing a "grave threat" to its forces stationed in the area.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has carried out extensive land reclamation work on numerous islands and reefs it claims, equipping some with air strips and military installations.
In a bid to question China's claims over the area, the USA has been pressing naval ships and air force planes frequently to pass through the area, through which trillions of dollars of global trade takes place to assert freedom of navigation.
The United States has sent vessels to illegally enter the waters around China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea on multiple occasions, endangering the safety of vessels and personnel from both sides, the spokesperson continued.
"The United States conducts routine and regular FONOPs, as we have done in the past and will continue to do so in the future", Lt. Cmdr.
Under joint efforts by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the situation around the South China Sea is becoming more and more stable and positive, Wu said. "But we firmly oppose any country using navigation and overflight freedom as an excuse to hurt China's sovereignty and security interests", he said. Instead they aim to "demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under global law".
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