Two U.S. Warships Sail In Disputed South China Sea (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters; published May 06, 2019)
By Idrees Ali
WASHINGTON --- The U.S. military said two of its warships sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Monday, a move that angered Beijing at a time of tense ties between the world’s two biggest economies.

The busy waterway is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and Taiwan.

President Donald Trump dramatically increased pressure on China to reach a trade deal by threatening to hike U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods this week and soon target hundreds of billions more.

The U.S. guided-missile destroyers Preble and Chung Hoon traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet, said the “innocent passage” aimed “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law”.

The operation was first reported by Reuters.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the U.S. ships entered the waters near the islets without the Chinese government’s permission, and the Chinese navy warned them to leave.

“The relevant moves by the U.S. ships infringed upon Chinese sovereignty, and damaged the peace, security and good order of the relevant seas. China is strongly dissatisfied with this and resolutely opposed to it,” he told a daily news briefing. (end of excerpt)


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China Warns US Ships to Leave Sea
(Source: Global Times; issued May 07, 2019)
A military spokesperson said that the People's Liberation Army will stay on high alert and take all necessary measures to protect national sovereignty and security and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, after two US ships illegally entered the area.

Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesperson of the Southern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army, made the remarks after they discovered US guided-missile destroyers Preble and Chung Hoon traveling close to the Nansha Islands on Monday.

The command had identified and warned the ships to leave in accordance with laws, Li said in a statement released on the command's WeChat account on Monday afternoon.

China owns indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, Li noted.

Geng Shuang, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, expressed China's strong discontent and firm opposition to the US destroyers' behavior at a routine press conference on Monday. The behavior violated China's sovereignty, disturbed regional peace and stability, he noted.

The two destroyers traveled within 12 nautical miles of the Nancun and Chigua reefs in the Nansha Islands, according to Geng.

"The situation in the South China Sea is improving thanks to the efforts of China and ASEAN countries," Geng said, urging the US to stop such provocative operations.

The operations are the latest of the US to threaten China's sovereignty in the South China Sea under the name of freedom of navigation, which experts said is just "an excuse for the US to stir up tensions in the region and contain China."

"The US' excuse of freedom of navigation does not stand because international law never allowed US warships to freely enter another country's territorial waters," Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Monday.

"As you can see, the situation in the South China Sea has already stabilized. Countries directly involved, including the Philippines, all agreed to peacefully solve the problems through dialogue and negotiations, and these countries are now focusing on economic cooperation," Zhang noted.

Countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei sent naval vessels to China in April, joining the celebrations of the PLA Navy's 70th anniversary. Following the celebrations, China held a joint naval exercise with the Southeast Asian countries in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, from April 24-26.

These show that countries around the South China Sea want peace and stability in the region, which is being sabotaged by US actions, according to Zhang.

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