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Territorial incursion protested

By Mo Jingxi and Zhang Zhihao | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-04 07:26

US warship sailed into waters off Xisha Islands without permission

China strongly protested the trespassing of a United States warship into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands, dispatching battleships and fighter jets to warn off the vessel.

"China will continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said after the USS Stethem, a US guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhongjian Island in the waters off the Xisha Islands without notifying China in advance.

"China strongly urges the US to immediately stop such provocative operations that violate China's sovereignty and threaten China's security," Lu said in a statement released on Sunday night.

This is the second time that US naval ships have carried out such operations since US President Donald Trump took office. The first was in May, when a US warship entered the waters off Meiji Reef of the Nansha Islands.

According to Lu, the US behavior, under the pretext of "freedom of navigation" and without China's approval, violated Chinese law and international law, and also put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands.

"It is a serious political and military provocation. China is strongly dissatisfied with it and opposed to it," he added.

The Ministry of National Defense confirmed on Monday that the Chinese Navy dispatched the guided-missile destroyer CNS Luoyang, guided-missile frigate CNS Suqian, minesweeper CNS Taishan and two J-11B fighter jets to warn and drive away the US vessel.

"This is a serious violation of law, and China strongly opposes such actions," ministry spokesman Wu Qian said.

The Chinese government announced the baseline for its territorial waters around the Xisha Islands in 1996, yet the US continues to send warships to trespass and commit acts of provocation in Chinese territorial waters, Wu said.

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

The Chinese military will increase various defense capabilities, as well as the number of sea and air patrols in the region, based on the level of threat that the nation faces, Wu said.

Contact the writers at mojingxi@chinadaily.com.cn

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