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Philippines says it told China of 'red lines' in sea feud

29 May, 2018, 12:35 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang

At the same time, US Defense Department spokesman Christopher Logan has firmly denied Beijing's accusations of the US violating Chinese sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea, underlining that US Navy operates in the area in accordance with global law.

The two warships, the USS Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser home-ported in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and the USS Higgins, a destroyer, had "arbitrarily entered China's territorial waters around the Xisha Islands without permission of the Chinese government", spokesman Wu Qian said, using the Chinese name for the Paracels.

Several US officials who declined to be named said the two US warships came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, maneuvering near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the operations.

A statement released by the Chinese Ministry of Defense condemned the operation, saying that it had "contravened Chinese and relevant global law, seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty [and] harmed strategic mutual trust between the two militaries".

"Chinese military took immediate actions by dispatching naval ships and aircrafts to conduct legal identification and verification of the USA warships and warn them off", Wu Qian, defense ministry spokesman, said.

The chief spokesman for China's defence ministry, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, said that the USA "gravely violated Chinese sovereignty".

"China will continue to take every necessary measure to safeguard its sovereignty and security".

The US military did not directly comment on Sunday's operation, but said US forces operate in the region daily.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which about US$3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods passes every year.

These operations "are not about one country", he said, "nor are they about making political statements". China has refused to acknowledge the arbitral ruling and continues to claim the South China Sea in its entirety.

China has been deploying serious military power to the region - including constructing manmade islands bristling with missiles.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

The U.S. had included China in the past two versions of the naval exercise known as Rim of the Pacific, or RimPac, in 2014 and 2016.

But China will miss out on the exercises this year, which are held in Hawaii, following Mattis' decision.

China's Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi said the U.S. decision to exclude it from RIMPAC was 'very non-constructive'.

Chinese officials have accused Washington of viewing their country in suspicious, "Cold War" terms.

The decision to pull China's invitation comes amid new tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Trump's cancellation of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has put further strain on U.S.

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