A US Navy destroyer sailed near Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea under the pretense of "freedom of navigation" on Wednesday. Chinese analysts believe the US is once again trying to provoke China and are calling for the speeding up of defense system deployment.
The US destroyer Wayne E. Meyer carried out the operation, traveling within 12 nautical miles of the Yongshu Reef and the Meiji Reef, according to Reann Mommsen, a spokesperson for the US Navy's Seventh Fleet.
Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Wednesday that sending warships into waters adjacent to Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea under the guise of "freedom of navigation" has become a common means for the US to stir up tensions in the region.
The US' move shows that it does not want to see stability in the South China Sea, Zhang noted, as they "fear that the easing of the situation in the region will make their reasons for strengthening their military presence invalid in the South China Sea."
Countries including the Philippines and Malaysia have expressed their opposition to the US' provocations because there is no problem in conducting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, Zhang said.
"Neighboring countries do not want tensions in the region," Zhang told the Global Times, saying the US navy ships are threatening Chinese sovereignty and security. "As the US continues to send warships into the South China Sea, Washington has become the main villain who undermines the peace and stability of the region."
Retired navy captain Tian Shichen told the Global Times that the US' move showed the US military's "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea have become more normalized, while it is also adjusting its operational methods to bring more pressure to bear on China's island and reef garrison.
Tian said the US might play other tricks in the future, such as organizing joint operations with other countries, sending two warships to enter the waters adjacent to the island, even sending warships and aircraft together to the waters and airspace near the island.
The actions actually violate United Nations conventions on the law of the sea and domestic laws of coastal countries, Tian noted.
The "excessive maritime claims" which the US raised to accuse other countries were based on its own standards rather than international standards to judge other coastal countries' marine policies, Tian said, noting the US is adopting its own version of international laws to replace genuine ones, which is not acceptable to the international community.
Tian believes that by the US' continuing such actions, it means there's a higher chance of an encounter between Chinese and US forces both in the air and at sea, which further increases the likelihood of accidents.
"As such actions have become normal, China should respond with reason and law. But we also should speed up our defense system implementation on the islands and reefs in the region," Tian said.
"The US navy sails thousands of miles, using US taxpayer's money as a provocation on China's doorstep, so we should take this opportunity for practical military training, to get used to this kind of 'cat and mouse' game."