China slams ‘provoca­tive’ US sail-by in S China Sea

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

China has slammed the US for sail­ing a war­ship near dis­puted ter­ri­tory in the South China Sea, say­ing the move was a “se­ri­ous il­le­gal act” and “de­lib­er­ately provoca­tive”. In a state­ment on its web­site late Fri­day night, the coun­try’s de­fense min­istry said two Chi­nese naval ves­sels warned off a US ship af­ter it en­tered “Chi­nese ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters” near the Para­cel Is­lands, known as Xisha in Chi­nese. China con­trols all of the is­lands, which are also claimed by Viet­nam and Tai­wan.

The ship’s “en­trance into China’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters is a se­ri­ous il­le­gal act and a de­lib­er­ately provoca­tive act,” it said, ad­ding that the min­istry had made “solemn rep­re­sen­ta­tions” to Washington. In a sep­a­rate on­line state­ment, the for­eign min­istry said the ac­tion had “se­ri­ously vi­o­lated China’s sovereignty and se­cu­rity in­ter­ests, and had se­ri­ously bro­ken rel­e­vant Chi­nese law and in­ter­na­tional law.”

The Pen­tagon said Fri­day it had sent the de­stroyer USS De­catur close to the Para­cel Is­lands, but that the ship had not passed within the 12 nau­ti­cal mile zone that in­ter­na­tional law de­fines as ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters. The ships tran­sited the area in “a rou­tine, law­ful man­ner with­out ship es­corts and with­out in­ci­dent,” a spokesman said. The ma­neu­ver was the third South China Sea “free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion” op­er­a­tion con­ducted this year by the US, which has re­peat­edly stressed it will ig­nore China’s “ex­ces­sive” mar­itime claims.

Fri­day’s op­er­a­tion was the first since a tri­bunal at the Per­ma­nent Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion in The Hague in July ruled there was no le­gal ba­sis to China’s claims to nearly all of the sea-a ver­dict Beijing dis­missed ve­he­mently. China that month held a week of mil­i­tary drills around the Paracels in the north­ern part of the South China Sea, dur­ing which other ships were pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing the wa­ters. Sev­eral other na­tions across the re­gion in­clud­ing the Philip­pines and Viet­nam have ri­val claims to var­i­ous parts of the South China Sea. —AFP

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