USA missile destroyer trespassing territorial waters 'serious provocation': China

Jul 03, 2017, 00:59
USA missile destroyer trespassing territorial waters 'serious provocation': China

Two defense officials told the network that the USS Stethem sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, which is the worldwide maritime border as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Knight said it was an innocent passage, which generally allows for a ship to pass through the territorial waters of another country.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, flanked by South Korean destroyers, with the USS Stethem, at the rear in May.

The tiny islet is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, and is not one of the seven fortified man-made islands, which are located in the South China Sea's Spratly chain further south.

The 12-mile line is the internationally recognized distance that separates the shores of a sovereign nation from worldwide waters.

Freedom of navigation patrols (FONOPS) represent "a challenge to excessive maritime claims", according to the U.S. Defense Department.

Trump had praised China's efforts to bring pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

Citing Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang as saying, Xinhua reported that China dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response to warn off the USA vessel.

"The Chinese side is dissatisfied with, and opposed to, the relevant behavior of the United States side". "At least I know China tried!" "The Chinese side will continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security".

Over the past two years, China has expanded the small reefs into spacious artificial islands through sand dredging, then constructed runways and other facilities, some of which can be used for military purposes.

In late March, AMTI reported that dozens of aircraft hangars and high-end radar capabilities on the man-made islands in the South China Sea were nearly operational.

"Under the pretext of 'freedom of navigation, ' the USA side once again sent a military vessel into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China's approval", the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that such United States behavior "violated Chinese law and relevant worldwide law, infringed upon China's sovereignty, and disrupted the peace, security and order of the relevant waters".

Trump is set to speak with Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday, before he formally meets both of them outside of the Group of 20 summit in Germany next week. He was also expected to have a call with the Chinese President on Sunday night USA time.

All those steps added up to a sharp reversal in tone from April, when Xi traveled to Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for a first face-to-face meeting that Trump later said had helped build an "outstanding" relationship.

But the Pentagon declined to officially comment on the move.