(Sputnik) – The Foreign Ministry in Beijing said in a statement it strongly urged the United States to stop such “provocative” actions, noting that the operation carried out by the US Warship was a “threat to its sovereignty.”
The encounter between the USS Decatur and China’s naval forces happened after the American destroyer was reported sailing in the disputed territory of the Spratly Islands. The warship is said to act under the “freedom of navigation” program that urges China to pass the other nations’ warships through the territorial waters of the South China Sea. When the US destroyer approached one of the Gaven Reefs near the disputed island, China had dispatched a Luyang-class destroyer to escort the American warship away.
The US Pacific Fleet deputy spokesman Commander Nate Christensen released the statement saying that the US Navy ships operate throughout the South China Sea routinely and, “as for decades” the US forces would “continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows”.
Earlier last week China’s Defense Ministry slammed the US over the flyover of B-52 long-range strategic bombers over the South China Sea, calling it a “provocation”. The mentioned US bomber also participated in a US-Japan joint military exercise in the East China Sea, where China and Japan have a dispute over uninhabited Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
Also last week China refused to port the USS Wasp in Hong Kong as another sign of the growing tensions between Washington and Beijing. The US Secretary of Defense James Mattis reportedly pulled out his planned visit to Beijing in October where he planned to discuss security issues with senior Chinese officials.
The tensions between the US and China came amid to the ongoing tariff wars between two world’s largest economies. Right after the 10% sanctions came in action on September, 24 targeting $260 billion worth of goods, Washington imposed sanctions on the Chinese military for buying Russian fighter jets and missiles. Beijing, in turn, cautioned Washington that it should reconsider or prepare to face the “consequences”.