Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

USA sends warships near disputed island in South China Sea

US Navy reaches SCS-islands amid tense US-China ties US sends warships near disputed island in South China Sea: report | TheHill
Steven Clarke | 28 May, 2018, 06:36

United States officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency that two military vessels came within 12 nautical miles (around 22km) of the disputed Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbours.

The US warships passed the Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels.

Earlier this month, China riled Vietnam and the Philippines by landing bombers on a disputed set of islands in the South China Sea.

The U.S. ships were performing so-called "freedom of navigation operations" meant to exercise the U.S. right to navigate the waters under global law, as China's claims over the South China Sea aren't internationally recognized.

Washington has slammed Beijing's moves in the region and has recently been conducting FONOPs in the area, although some military experts claim that they have little effect.

Citing Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, the statement said the USA warships "undermined strategic mutual trust between the two militaries and damaged peace, security and good order in relevant waters".

"Chinese military took immediate actions by dispatching naval ships and aircrafts to conduct legal identification and verification of the United States warships and warn them off", Wu Qian, defense ministry spokesman, said.

Japan 'Respects' Trump’s Decision to Cancel North Korea Meeting
The weekend talks were the latest twist in a week of diplomatic ups and downs over the prospects for an unprecedented U.S. Trump responded to reporters' questions about the summit saying that it was "moving along very nicely".

China has reminded the U.S. that it has a right to self-defense and has urged Washington not to "hype up the so-called "militarization" of the South China Sea".

Beijing claims all its military forces in the South China Sea are purely defensive.

It was the latter act that caused Defense Secretary James Mattis to withdraw China's invitation to the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises.

'China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region, ' Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan said.

Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing their country in suspicious, "Cold War" terms.

Trump's cancellation of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has put further strain on US-China ties amid a trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.

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