China expels US ship from disputed waters in fresh escalation in South China Sea
Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain - TYRA WATSON / AFP / Getty Images
China alleged Tuesday that its military "evacuated" a US Navy destroyer after "invading" Chinese waters near the Spratly Islands, re-escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing over the South China Sea led.
The statement by Lt. Col. Tian Junli, spokesman for the Southern Command for People's Liberation, came shortly after the US Navy announced that the USS John S. McCain was in line with its "navigational rights and freedoms" in the disputed seas near the islands asserted with international law. "
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The incident came while Shandong, China's second aircraft carrier, was reportedly conducting exercises in the region after sailing the fragile cross-strait on Sunday.
The Chinese government claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea and directly denies the territorial claims of its smaller regional neighbors to reefs, islands and waters. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan have all made claims on the Spratlys.
This year, Beijing demonstrated its ability to assert itself against the high-energy waters and prompted the US to denounce its "bullying behavior" there and to increase its own freedom of navigation.
In July, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would consider Beijing's quest for resources in the South China Sea illegal. Experts say the increased military presence from both sides has increased the risk of intentional or accidental collision.
On Saturday, the U.S. Navy broke its own record for the number of times it sent a warship cross-strait in a single year. The guided missile destroyer USS Mustin made the 13th transit through the 110-wide waterway that separates China from Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party claims to own Taiwan despite never ruling there and threatening invasion if the island refuses to be peacefully annexed. The US has close informal ties with Taiwan's democratically elected government and is its largest arms supplier.
In the meantime, the USS John S. McCain practiced anti-submarine combat with the French nuclear submarine FS Emeraude and the Japanese helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga in the Philippine Sea last week.
In a statement on its Spratlys voyage, the US Navy said China's "unlawful and far-reaching maritime claims" pose "a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedom of navigation and overflight, free trade and unhindered trade" for other nations in china the region.
An estimated $ 5 trillion of international trade flows through the South China Sea each year, adding to concerns about China's control of its waters and increasing the possibility that access can be used as a means of economic coercion.
Beijing is also keen to develop the vast reserves of oil and gas that are believed to be under its seabed.
Earlier this year it received stinging reprimand from Vietnam for its suspected oil exploration in the region and for the creation of two administrative units on the Paracel and Spratly Islands.
China has denied any wrongdoing. In its warning on Tuesday, the PLA accused the US of undermining peace and stability in the region.
"Such US actions have seriously violated China's sovereignty and security, and seriously undermined peace and stability in the South China Sea," said Colonel Tian.
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