China’s military said it drove out an American ship from a disputed area of the South China Sea on Monday.
- Beijing asserted its claims to parts of the sea that also are claimed by Southeast Asia governments, according to The Associated Press (AP).
- The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly sent ships and planes after the U.S.S. Benfold when it entered waters claimed by Beijing around the Paracel Islands.
WHAT CHINA’S SAYING:
- AP notes that China said from its military’s social media account that forces “warned” the American vessel and “drove them away.”
- China also rejected the Biden administration’s Sunday declaration of support for an international tribunal ruling in favor of the Philippines.
- The islands are “China’s inherent territory,” the PLA stated. “The actions of the U.S. military have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security.”
WHAT THE U.S. IS SAYING:
- In a statement by the 7th Fleet Public Affairs office, the U.S. Navy rejected China’s statement as “false” without giving further details about the alleged encounter.
- The Benfold carried out its operation “in accordance with international law and then continued on to conduct normal operations in international waters,” the statement continued.
- The Navy said the statement from Bejing was “the latest in a long string of PRC actions to misrepresent lawful U.S. maritime operations and assert its excessive and illegitimate maritime claims.”
- “The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as USS Benfold did here. Nothing PRC says otherwise will deter us,” affirmed the 7th Fleet Public Affairs office.
- China’s move comes on the five-year anniversary of an international court decision rejecting those same Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, notes American Military News.
- It also comes just after the U.S. warned an attack by China on the Philippines might activate a mutual defense treaty.
- Over the weekend, the Biden administration affirmed its support for the Trump-era tribunal ruling rejecting China’s claims outside its internationally recognized territorial waters. “China firmly deplores and rejects the wrongdoings of the United States,” Zhao said at a news briefing.
- The country’s increasing assertiveness about territorial claims are fueling tension with Japan, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines.