Beijing – The US Navy dispatched a destroyer on Wednesday nearControlled islands in the South China Sea. Washington said the patrol was intended to emphasize freedom of navigation through the strategic sea route, almost all of which China claims as its territorial waters.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold crossed the Paracel Islands and then continued with operations in the South China Sea. “The operation upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful use of the seas,” the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a news release.
Such operations are seen as vital for the US Navy to maintain its presence in the Indo-Pacific, where China has sought to increase its presence through a massive shipbuilding operation.
Beijing has also worried the US, Australia and New Zealand with the signing of a mutual defense deal with the Solomon Islands under which it can receive Chinese troops in an emergency and possibly establish a permanent Chinese military presence. Is.
In response to Benfold’s passage, China’s Southern Theater Command monitored the vessel’s movements and ordered it to leave the area, Air Force Colonel Tian Junli was quoted as saying on the Defense Ministry website.
The statement attributed to Junli said the US warship had “illegally entered China’s territorial waters” and that the Chinese military “provided naval and air forces to “track and monitor it, send warnings and evade it”. Organized the army.”
In the statement, the Chinese military protested, “The actions of the US military seriously violate the sovereignty and security of China, seriously undermine the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and violate the norms of international law and international relations.” violated.”
China claims ownership of almost the entire South China Sea. About $5 trillion in global trade passes through the strategic waterway each year, and it also has highly valuable fish stocks and underwater mineral resources. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan all make competing claims to the water.
In recent years, as China has built larger, more advanced naval ships andClaiming full control over democratically-ruled Taiwan by force, if necessary, throughout the region.
The US and its allies have responded with so-called freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, the narrow body of water that separates mainland China from the small autonomous island. Patrols sometimes face pushback from the Chinese military.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that China, with its growing rhetoric about its maritime claims and increasing control over Taiwan, represents “the most serious long-term challenge to the international order” for the United States.