The government of China warned one of the warships of the US to leave China waters as it stayed out near a reef in the South China Sea. According to Chinese officials, the vessel trespassed on its territory and undermined the security of the region.
The US warship was spotted near the waters by Spratly Islands. The area is where China claims to have indisputable sovereignty as said by Ren Guoqiang, China’s defense ministry spokesman, in a briefing last Thursday in Beijing.
“China identified the ship, tracked it, verified, and then warned the ship,” said Guoqiang.
This is the first of Trump’s operation known as freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The USS Dewey, USA’s guided-missile destroyer, made the patrol last Wednesday a short distance away from Mischief Reef, which was where China built its own artificial outpost. The outpost is outfitted with an airfield as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
China claims ownership of almost the entire South China Sea as it is among the busiest shipping routes in the world. Recently, China has been increasing its military presence within the parameters of South China Sea, reclaiming a vast area of land so it can build several artificial outposts.
“The Chinese military wants the US to know that they are resolutely opposed to its behavior as it only makes accidents happen, as well as boosts regional militarization. China already made solemn representations that the US understood,” exclaimed Guoqiang.
The move of the US was seen by China as a sign that it plans to keep the critical sea lanes accessible. The US carries out its own operation on freedom of navigation by sending aircrafts and multiple Navy ships near disputed territories in order to demonstrate that it has the right to sail and fly on what they consider as international airspace and waters.
The administration of Pres. Donald Trump is keen on getting the help of China to contain the nuclear ambitions of North Korea. The administration also declined to conduct its operation on freedom of navigation despite the request that was made by the US Pacific Command.
The Department of Defense did not give any comment on the report of Wall Street Journal. However, spokesman Jamie Davis said that forces of the US are operating in Asia-Pacific region every single day and that includes the South China Sea. According to Davis, the country will still push through with its operation on freedom of navigation. Also, summaries of such will be released in annual reports but not sooner.
In an email, Graham Webster, China Center Yale Law School’s senior fellow, said, “It appears that the decision makers of the US sought to be more responsive to calls to continue FON operations as reports stated that there were none last year. By saying that the government refuses to make any more operations public before annual reports are released, it can be concluded that the US government is trying to avoid persistent public calls regarding public FON operations.”
On the other hand, Guoqiang said that the relationship between China and the US is critical at the moment because of the incident.