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After trespass by US destroyer, China to increase patrolling in South China Sea

By Zhang Zhihao | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-07-03 17:07

China strongly opposes US Navy trespassing Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea and vows to increase defense build-up and patrols in the region, Defense Ministry said on Monday.

On Sunday, the USS Stethem, an American guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhongjian Island in the waters of Xisha Archipelago without notifying China in advance, said ministry spokesman Wu Qian.

As a result, the Chinese Navy dispatched guided-missile destroyer Luoyang, guided-missile frigate Suqian, a minesweeper ship Taishan and two J-11B fighter jets to warn and drive away the American ship, Wu added.

This is the second time that US naval ships carried out such operation since President Donald Trump took office. The first being in May when a US warship entered Meiji Islands in the Nansha Archipelago.

The Chinese government has announced its baseline for its territorial waters around Xisha Islands in 1996, yet the US side continues to send warships to trespass and provoke in Chinese territorial waters.

"This is a serious violation of law, and China strongly oppose such actions," Wu said.

In January last year, another guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur also sailed within 12 nautical miles of islands in the Xisha Archipelago, drawing a protest from Beijing.

"These actions have seriously damaged mutual strategic trust, seriously undermined the political climate for Sino-US military relations, seriously endangered the lives of soldiers at the front line, and seriously sabotaged regional peace and security," he said.

The Chinese military will increase various defense capabilities buildups, as well as the number of sea and air patrols in the region, based on the level of threat that the nation faces. It will also resolutely protect national sovereignty and security, he added.

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