American Navy warships frequently anger the Chinese communist regime by conducting what the U.S. calls“freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea by sailing close to islands China laid a claim to.
U.S. Navy warships sailed twice in the fiercely disputed maritime waters over the past few days, according to U.S. military sources.
The USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), an Independence-class littoral combat ship, on Wednesday, Nov. 20, sailed within 12 nautical miles off Mischief Reef, spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet Commander Reann Mommsen said. Mischief Reef is a Chinese military base in the disputed South China Sea.
Then on Thursday, Nov. 21, the USS Wayne E. Meyer, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, disregarded Chinese-imposed restrictions by making an inoffensive passage near the Paracel islands in the South China Sea, Cmdr. Mommsen stated.
The two incidents further fueled mounting tensions between the two world economies, already tense amid delays in trade talks and the signing of Phase one trade deal.
“These missions are based in the rule of law and demonstrate our commitment to upholding the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations,” Mommsen said in response to the decisions of the U.S. Navy.
China, however, refused to acknowledge the international rule of law and imposed their angry and heavy-handed response. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army pursued the two US warships as they navigated through the disputed waters and “warned them to leave.”
During a press briefing on Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry told reporters, “The U.S. actions severely damage China’s sovereignty and safety, destroy the peace and stability in the South China Sea, and we express our resolute opposition.”
Chinese military issued a warning to the United States, accusing the United States of “sending naval vessels to stir up trouble in the South China Sea under the pretext of freedom of navigation.”
“China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and its surrounding area,” said China’s Southern Theater Command spokesman in a statement.
“We call on the U.S. to stop such provocative acts to avoid the happening of any mishap,” according to the Chinese military statement.
The Global Times, a Chinese state-owned national English language newspaper under the People’s Daily, tweeted, “China urges the U.S. to stop provocations to avoid unforeseen incidents. The Chinese military is determined to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and maintain the peace and stability of the [South China Sea] no matter what tricks US vessels play:” Southern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
China urges the US to stop provocations to avoid unforeseen incidents. The Chinese military is determined to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and maintain the peace and stability of the #SouthChinaSea no matter what tricks US vessels play: Southern Theater Command of #PLA pic.twitter.com/jWDwBF9Vih
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) November 22, 2019
Their twitter statement attracted various comments: “U.S. will sail through any International waters as they see fit to maintain International law. Sorry.”
U.S. will sail through any International waters as they see fit to maintain International law. Sorry.
— Melon Head (@sweetandownlow) November 22, 2019
Another tweeted: “China doesn’t own or control the South China Sea.”
China doesn’t own or control the South China Sea
— John Jasper – Two Flags Estate (@jbjasper) November 22, 2019
Yet, another twitter member wrote: “The south china sea doesn’t belong to the PRC, and its china that is trying to militarily claim international waters, not the US. So who is really concerned with peace? Who is really playing tricks here?”
The south china sea doesn’t belong to the PRC, and its china that is trying to militarily claim international waters, not the US. So who is really concerned with peace? Who is really playing tricks here?
— ㄖㄨㄟˋㄉㄜˊ Ruei 🇹🇼 (@TaiwanHK) November 22, 2019
The busy South East Asian waterway is one of several prickly issues in Sino-U.S. relations, besides the ongoing unresolved trade tariff war, U.S. sanctions, Taiwan, and the Hong Kong crisis.
Neighboring countries, such as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam have claims to various sections of the South China Sea.
But the Chinese communist regime claims nearly all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea and set up military outposts on artificial islands.
The United States accused China of militarizing the South China Sea and intimidating the other smaller Asian nations.
Earlier this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper met his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe in Bangkok for closed-door talks on the sidelines during the meeting of defense ministers.
Wei told Esper to “stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea.”
Esper censured the Chinese regime for “increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives” in the South East Asian region.
As the Sino-U.S. trade war remains unresolved, military tensions are brewing between the two countries.