This is another step in countering Beijing’s efforts to restrict freedom of navigation in strategic waters.
The US Navy destroyer on Tuesday again passed near the islands located in the disputed part of the South China Sea, which China considers part of its territory, three sources in the US administration said.. The operation has sparked outrage in Beijing as President Donald Trump seeks to enlist his support in curbing North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions..
The operation was another attempt to counter Beijing’s efforts to restrict freedom of navigation in strategic waters, but it was not as provocative as previous operations since Trump’s inauguration..
According to anonymous sources in the US government, the missile destroyer Chafee performed routine maneuvers to challenge China’s “excessive naval claims” in the Paracel Islands, among the small islands, reefs and shoals over which Beijing is in territorial disputes with its neighbors..
China’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday said it had used a warship, two fighter jets and a helicopter to issue a warning to the US destroyer. Beijing called the operation a violation of its sovereignty and a provocation.
The Chinese Ministry of Defense also announced that it intends to further strengthen its naval and air defense.
Speaking at a daily press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China made a “strong presentation” to the United States, stressing that the Paracel Islands are part of its territory.
Next month, President Trump will make his first official visit to Asia, including China, which he calls for more efforts to contain the DPRK. China is North Korea’s neighbor and largest trading partner.
Unlike the August operation, when an American destroyer approached a Chinese-built artificial island in the South China Sea at a distance of 12 nautical miles, on Tuesday the US Navy vessel did not come so close to this island chain..
The Pentagon did not directly comment on the operation, but said that the United States is regular conducting operations to ensure freedom of navigation and will continue to do so..
In addition to China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam are claiming in the territory in the South China Sea, through which a trade turnover of about $ 5 trillion passes annually..
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