WW3 ALERT: China furious after US Navy destroyer passes disputed islands in S. China Sea
“These actions of the US warship are a threat to the sovereignty and security of China, and safety of people living on the islands; they damage peace and stability in the region. In this regard, the Chinese side expresses extreme dissatisfaction and strongly protests,” the statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry website says, according to Interfax.
A US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AP on Monday that a US Navy ship had sailed near the artificial islands. The Navy was planning to send one of its destroyers on a patrol route that goes within 12 sea miles of the islands, previous reports stated. The US vessel could have been accompanied by one or two US Navy surveillance planes, which have repeatedly conducted reconnaissance flights in the area, an unnamed US official told Reuters. According to the US Navy, additional patrols could follow in the coming weeks.
The USS Lassen destroyer was scheduled to pass by the Subi and Mischief reefs, which belong to the Spratly archipelago, over which China claims sovereignty. Both reefs were initially submerged before China took up an ambitious dredging project aimed at turning them into islands.
Chinese authorities monitored and followed the US warship when it “illegally” entered the waters near the disputed islands, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The statement stresses that the passage of the American destroyer was made “despite repeated warnings” from Beijing.
“China consistently respects and defends the freedom of navigation and flight of any country in accordance with international law. However, it firmly opposes any country harming [China’s] sovereignty and security under the pretext of freedom of navigation and flight,” Beijing said.
It added: “China resolutely defends its sovereignty, security and rights in the maritime space. The Chinese side is ready to give an appropriate response to any country’s provocations.”
The Foreign Ministry noted that China hopes the US “react properly
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