US sends destroyer near Paracel Islands angering China | South China Sea News

The US says sailing near the disputed islands is a ‘freedom of navigation operation’ while China calls it ‘illegal’.

The United States sent a ship through the North China Sea near the disputed Paracel Islands in a move condemned by China.

The USS Benfold sailed near an archipelago of more than 100 reefs and islands claimed by China and claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, in a “freedom of navigation operation” that the United States considers necessary to assert rights and freedoms under international law in disputes. too much water.

“The illegal and far-reaching maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to freedom of the seas, including freedom of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce. obstacles, and freeing economic opportunity for the nations bordering the South China Sea,” the US 7th Fleet said in a statement on Wednesday.

Beijing, which took control of the Paracel Islands in 1955, reacted angrily to the presence of the US destroyer. Island of trees is the most prominent in the island chain and China has built an airport and other facilities there.

“On July 13, the US guided-missile destroyer ‘Benfold’ illegally entered China’s Hoang Sa territorial waters without the approval of the Chinese government,” said Tian Junli, who Spokesperson for the PLA Southern Theater Command, said in a statement.

According to Reuters news agency, the move “seriously harms the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and seriously violates international law and norms of international relations”.

Tensions have been simmering for years in the South China Sea, which China claims almost entirely.

Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines also have claims to this sea.

Manila filed a legal challenge over Beijing’s actions in the sea in 2013, and a court in The Hague ruled three years later that China’s claim unfounded in law.

Beijing refused to recognize the decision and said that the so-called historic rights on which it based its claims prior to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

UNCLOS regulates what states can claim from various features at sea, and governs maritime behavior. China and the Philippines are among 167 parties that have signed and ratified UNCLOS. The United States has not ratified the law but recognizes the instrument as customary international law.

In its statement, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet noted that China, Taiwan, and Vietnam all violate international law by requiring prior authorization or notice before a military vessel or warship engages. join the “innocent passage” through the waters surrounding the Paracels.

It said the USS Benfold’s sailing was a challenge to such “illegal restrictions”.

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