Beijing slams US intrusion near Nanshas
It says move will only prompt the country to further strengthen its defense capacity
Beijing slammed Washington for sending a warship to waters adjacent to one of its islands in the South China Sea, saying the action will only prompt Beijing to strengthen its defense.
Spokesmen from both the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry issued statements condemning the “unauthorized entry into neighboring waters of relevant islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands” by the USS John S. McCain.
The US Navy destroyer conducted a “freedom of navigation operation” on Thursday and came within 12 nautical miles of Meiji Reef, part of China’s Nansha Islands, Reuters quoted anonymous US officials as saying.
China immediately dispatched two missile frigates to identify the ship, and they warned it to leave, said Wu Qian, spokesman for the Defense Ministry, early on Friday.
The muscle-flexing “promotes regional militarization and can very easily trigger accidents in sea and air”, Wu said.
“The US military’s provocation will only prompt the Chinese military to further strengthen construction of defense capacity in various fields,” Wu added.
China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated on Thursday.
This was the second time a US warship entered waters within 12 nautical miles of Meiji Reef without China’s permission in recent months. The US destroyer Dewey did so in May.
It also came days after China and ASEAN countries adopted the framework in Manila for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
The US is attempting to stir up troubles in the waters where the situation has cooled down, Geng said, adding that the warship’s intrusion showed “who is exactly the one that does not want to see sustained stability in the South China Sea, and who serves as the biggest factor in the ‘militarization’ of the South China Sea”.
Zhou Fangyin, a researcher of foreign policy at the Guangdong Institute for International Strategies, said the incident shows that the US, a country outside the South China Sea region, doesn’t want to play “a minor role” in the region.
At a time when China and Southeast Asian countries have agreed to solve and manage the South China Sea issue through bilateral talks and to avoid influence by nonregional forces, the US behavior shows that Washington wants to maintain its presence in the region, instead of solving the issue, Zhou said.