Presence of USS Stethem Warship at South China Sea called a provocation by China
Presence of a US warship near a disputed island in the South China sea has been called “a serious political and military provocation” by China.
Warship USS Stethem had sailed within the territorial limits of the Triton Island which is part of the Paracel Islands and is claimed by China and others.
In response ships and fighter jets were sent to the island by China.
The incident happened hours before US President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping spoke on the phone.
However a white House statement about the call did not clarify whether the incident had been discussed or not.
China had been repeatedly warned against its occupation and reclamation of the islands in disputed waters by the US, however Beijing has said that it is within its sovereign rights to do so.
The White House has said that Mr Trump and Mr Xi had “reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearised Korean peninsula“, furthermore they had also discussed North Korea with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a separate call.
Late on Sunday, 2nd July 2017, in a statement China’s foreign ministry had confirmed reports that the USS Stethem had entered waters which are claimed by China.
According to a news channel which had cited US defense officials, The warship had sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island as part of its “freedom of navigation” operations.
The rules of the UN dictate that any territory can make claim to the waters up to 12 nautical miles from its coast. The sailing of the US warship within those limits indicates that the US does not recognize those territorial claims.
On the other hand Beijing has said that it would use “all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security.”
Furthermore Beijing has also accused the US of “deliberately stirring up troubles” in the region as China and Southeast Asian neighbors have “cooled down and improved the situation.”
Vietnam and Taiwan have also made claims to the tiny island. In recent years China has been embroiled in maritime disputes with several of its regional neighbours.
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