Home Asia China “Expels” US Navy Destroyer From Paracel Islands

China “Expels” US Navy Destroyer From Paracel Islands

A member of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy keeps watch at the entrance to the PLA Naval Submarine Academy, during a media tour to its open day ahead of the 75th founding anniversary of the Navy, in Qingdao, Shandong province, China April 21, 2024. REUTERS/Florence Lo

China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command claimed on Friday that it had closely observed and “expelled” the USS Halsey when it entered the territorial waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on May 10.

The U.S. move “seriously infringed on China’s sovereignty and security,” the military said. “It is yet another iron proof of its navigation hegemony and militarization of the South China Sea,” it said, adding its troops would stay on high alert and safeguard national security.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement the destroyer asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands “consistent with international law.”

The USS Halsey exited the area after its operation and continued on in the South China Sea, the statement said.

The latest dispute between China and the U.S. came amid heightened tensions in the strategic South China Sea, with U.S. ally the Philippines embroiled in a bitter diplomatic row with Beijing over disputed waters in the region.

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China asserts ownership over vast portions of the South China Sea, overlapping with territories claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. However, the Permanent Court of Arbitration determined in 2016 that Beijing’s claims lacked legal justification under international law.

Chinas has refused to accept the UNCLOS ruling and insists on ownership of all of the South China Sea. In the process, it has used its naval might to intimidate and threaten littoral navies. The most notable has been its persistent efforts to prevent the Philippine Navy from resupplying a marine unit on Second Thomas Shoal. It has used water cannon, aimed lasers on Philippine naval vessels, and used its vast fleet of fishing vessels to claim seas that belong to Manila.

In recent weeks, Manila signed a three-way agreement with the US and Japan to beef up coordination so the Philippines is not alone in trying to fend off the aggressive Chinese. It is also trying to modernize its ramshackle military, buying Brahmos missiles from India, aircraft, helicopters and naval vessels from elsewhere.

With Inputs from Reuters