Bei­jing slams US in­tru­sion near Nan­shas

It says move will only prompt the coun­try to fur­ther strengthen its de­fense ca­pac­ity

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG QINGYUN wangqingyun@chi­

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.

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