New York: United States has been strongly condemned by China after a US warship deliberately sailed near the Paracel chain, one of the Beijing controlled islands in the hotly contested South China Sea to exercise freedom of navigation and challenge China’s vast sea claims.
The missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracel chain ‘to challenge excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands’ without notifying the three claimants beforehand, Defense Department spokesman Mark Wright said in Washington.
China, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the Paracels and require prior notice from ships transiting their territorial waters, reports abc News.
China described the maneuver as a ‘deliberate provocation’ that raised doubts about the United States sincerity just days after Secretary of State John Kerry visited Beijing for meetings about the South China Sea that were called productive by both sides.
The latest operation was particularly aimed at China, which has raised tensions with the U.S. and its Southeast Asian neighbors by embarking on massive construction of man-made islands and airstrips in contested waters.
The U.S. has claimed the attempts to restrict navigational rights by requiring prior notice is inconsistent with international law and pledged to regularly carry out similar maneuvers.
China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said that ‘unprofessional and irresponsible’ U.S. action ‘severely violated Chinese law, sabotaged the peace and security.