US warship challenges Chinese territorial claims in the China Sea

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A US Navy guided missile destroyer challenged Chinese claims to sovereignty in and around islands in the South China Sea on Thursday, with a Navy statement saying such claims violate international law and ” represent a serious threat to the freedom of the seas”.

The USS Benfold sailed around the Paracel Islands, known in China as the Xisha Islands, in what the Navy calls a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP), Lt. US Navy Fleet.

The Paracels are a set of 130 small coral islands and reefs in the northwestern part of the South China Sea. They are not occupied by permanent population, only by Chinese military garrisons numbering a total of 1,400 people, according to the CIA Factbook.

The islands are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, but have been in Chinese hands for over 46 years. The islands were fortified with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military installations.

In a statement, the US Navy said the ship Benfold also contested the claims of Vietnam and Taiwan.

“All three applicants need permission or prior notification before a military vessel makes an ‘innocent passage’ through the territorial sea. According to international law […] the ships of all States – including their warships – enjoy the right of passage through the territorial sea. Unilateral imposition of any authorization or advance notice requirement for innocent passage is illegal,” the US Navy said in a statement.

Affirming freedom of navigation rights involves being able to navigate within a nation’s 12-mile territorial limit of coastline recognized by international law.

But the Navy singled out China for making what it calls “straight baselines” involving all waters within the island chain and said the Benfold was also challenging those claims.

“International law does not allow continental states such as the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to establish baselines around entire groups of scattered islands,” the US statement said.

“With these baselines, the PRC has attempted to claim more internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf than it is entitled to under international law,” he said.

China has reacted angrily to the presence of the Benfold ship in what it claims are its territorial waters.

“The People’s Liberation Army Southern Command has organized naval and air forces to track, monitor and deflect the destroyer with warnings,” said a statement from the Chinese military.

What the US has done seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty and security, and is further concrete proof that it is pursuing maritime hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea. The facts fully prove that the US is a ‘risk maker’ in the South China Sea and the ‘biggest destroyer’ of peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Chinese official statement

China claims nearly all of the 3.36 million square kilometers of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory.

Langford said Thursday’s FONOP operation was the second this year against Chinese claims in the South China Sea – the USS Benfold also sailed near the Spratly Islands on Tuesday – but he stressed that this remains a military practice. longtime in the United States.

“US forces operate in the South China Sea daily, as they have for over a century,” the US Navy said in a statement.

This content was originally created in English.

original version

Reference: CNN Brasil

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