After a landmark court verdict that Beijing has no claim to the South China Sea, China’s military said it “drove away” a US vessel that had entered Chinese seas near the disputed Paracel Islands.
The USS Benfold violated China’s sovereignty and undermined the stability of the South China Sea, according to the PLAN’s Southern Theater Command.
According to the Southern Theater Command, the US should immediately cease such provocative measures.
Asserting nautical rights and freedoms around the Paracel Islands, the US Navy 7th Fleet denounced Chinese charges of a major infringement of sovereignty as “false” and a misrepresentation.
Permission is not necessary under international law, which is recognized in the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
It expresses our dedication to freedom of navigation and authorized uses of the sea as a principle. In this case, the USS Benfold flew, sailed, and operated within international law. Nothing the PRC says will stop us.”
As well as the Paracels, China claims historic rights to hundreds of other islands, reefs and atolls in the resource-rich South China Sea. Beijing claims historic rights to everything within its “nine-dash line,” which covers most of the region.
In the 1970s, China acquired control of the Paracels, a band of barren islands roughly 250 miles east of Vietnam and 220 miles southeast of Hainan Island. Vietnam, which calls them Hoang Sa, and Taiwan both claim them. Prior authorization or notification is required from all three countries, according to the US Navy.
Its nine-dash line was dismissed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on July 12, 2016.
Chinese oil and gas exploration near Reed Bank also violated Philippine sovereignty, according to the report.
As a result, China has continued to extend its South China Sea presence during the past five years.
State Department spokesman Antony Blinken said freedom of the seas was a “enduring” concern of all governments.
South China Sea rules-based maritime order is under threat, according to Blinken.
In this crucial global throughway, the People’s Republic of China continues to compel and intimidate Southeast Asian coastline states.
An attack on Philippine soldiers in the South China Sea would trigger a 1951 US-Philippines mutual defense treaty, he said.
In addition, he urged the PRC to comply with international law and take efforts to reassure the international community that it is committed to a rules-based maritime order that respects all countries’ rights.