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China's military confronts US ship in South China Sea

May 10, 2024

The US Navy said a destroyer, the USS Halsey, was exercising navigational rights near the Paracel Islands. The archipelago lies in the South China Sea, which is disputed by several countries.

USS Halsey sailing near the South China Sea
China accused the USS Halsey of violating its sovereignty in the disputed South China SeaImage: Ismael Martinez/U.S. Navy/AP)/picture alliance

China's military said it issued a warning to a US Navy destroyer in the disputed South China Sea on Friday.

The USS Halsey was sailing near the Paracel Islands at the time of the encounter.

A spokesperson for China's military said it "organized naval and air forces to tail and monitor the ship in accordance with laws and regulations and issued a warning to drive it away."

"The actions by the United States seriously violate China's sovereignty and security," it added.

The People's Liberation Army accused Washington of being the "creator of security risks" and said the incident was "yet another iron proof of its navigation hegemony and militarization of the South China Sea."

US condemn's China's 'unlawful' maritime claims

The US Navy confirmed that the USS Halsey "asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands."

"At the conclusion of the operation, USS Halsey exited the excessive claim and continued operations in the South China Sea," it said.

"Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas," it added.

China claims large swaths of the South China Sea, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that Beijing's claims had no basis under international law.

China, Philippines in diplomatic row

The incident comes after increased maritime confrontations between China and the Philippines, which counts the US as a key ally.

On Friday, the Philippines' national security adviser called for Chinese diplomats to be expelled over an alleged leak of a phone conversation with a Filipino admiral.

China's embassy in Manila had orchestrated "repeated acts of engaging and dissemination of disinformation, misinformation and malinformation," Eduardo Ano said in a statement.

China's Foreign Ministry, in turn, accused the Philippines of "denying the facts."

zc/rc (Reuters, AFP)