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US Navy challenges Beijing’s South China Sea claims, will get offended response

Seoul, South Korea CNN  — 

A day after China stated it drove a US Navy destroyer away from Beijing-claimed waters within the South China Sea, the US seventh Fleet stated the identical warship sailed by these waters to problem the Chinese language claims.

The “guided-missile destroyer USS Milius asserted navigational rights and freedoms within the South China Sea close to the Paracel Islands, per worldwide regulation,” an announcement from seventh Fleet spokesperson Lt. jg. Luka Bakic stated.

The warship performed what the US Navy calls a “freedom of navigation operation,” or FONOP, Bakic stated, “difficult the restrictions on harmless passage imposed by the Folks’s Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan, and Vietnam.”

All three declare the Paracels, referred to as the Xishas in China, a bunch of about 130 small atolls, the most important of that are house to Chinese language army bases.

The US assertion additionally stated the Milius challenged China’s declare to “straight baselines enclosing the Paracels,” which means Beijing’s claims to waters between the islands, even when these waters are outdoors the internationally acknowledged 12-nautical-mile restrict from a shoreline for territorial waters.

China claims nearly all the huge South China Sea as a part of its territorial waters, together with many distant islands and inlets within the disputed physique of water, lots of which Beijing has militarized.

Different claimants in addition to Taiwan and Vietnam embrace Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, which has seen a UN tribunal rule in its favor in a dispute with Beijing over islands within the Spratly group.

However Beijing has rejected the UN ruling, and constructed up army bases on these disputed islands within the Spratlys – referred to as the Nansha Islands in China – because it has completed within the Paracels.

On Friday, China reacted angrily to the presence of the US warship close to the islands it claims.

“The actions of the U.S. army have significantly violated China’s sovereignty and safety and significantly violated worldwide regulation,” Tan Kefei, spokesperson for the Protection Ministry, stated in an announcement.

“The guided-missile destroyer USS Milius broke into China’s Xisha territorial waters once more with out the approval of the Chinese language authorities, undermining peace and stability within the South China Sea,” Tan stated.

On Thursday, Beijing stated the Milius was pushed away from the Paracels by Folks’s Liberation Military forces, a declare that was known as “false” by the US seventh Fleet.

Beijing has made comparable claims after different FONOPs, which the US conducts usually across the Paracels and the Spratlys to the south.

The Paracels are positioned east of Da Nang, Vietnam, and south of China’s Hainan Island.

Beijing usually makes statements that any US Navy operations within the South China Sea inflame tensions and present that Washington, and its companions who preserve a naval presence within the waterway, are damaging the area’s safety.

The world across the Paracels was the location of a tense encounter between a Chinese language warplane and US reconnaissance jet in February that was witnessed by a CNN crew.

Then and now, Washington is constant in its statements about its South China Sea operations.

“The operations show that the US will fly, sail, and function wherever worldwide regulation permits – whatever the location of extreme maritime claims and no matter present occasions,” Friday’s assertion, like many others earlier than it, stated.

Lately, the South China Sea has emerged as a serious potential flashpoint within the Asia Pacific.

Not solely does the strategic waterway maintain huge sources of fish, oil and fuel, however a couple of third of world delivery passes by it – price about $3.four trillion in 2016, in line with the Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Research’ (CSIS) China Energy Undertaking.

China additionally conducts common army workout routines in a lot of the South China Sea and maintains a big presence of coast guard and fishing vessels within the disputed waters – which has ceaselessly stoked tensions with different claimants.

CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to this report.

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