USS Antietam CG 54
Chinese Government in Beijing has cried out over a perceived invasion by the United States of America warships. They are sounding an alarmed over two US warships in presence in the South China Sea which China is claiming sole sovereignty and exclusive owner a claim disputed by her neighbours.
The two US warships the Higgins guided-missile destroyer Ticonderoga and the USS Antietam a guided missile cruiser were within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands which is a string of islets, reefs and shoals which is being disputed between China and her neighbours notably Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia.
Notwithstanding China’s strong objection the two warships did manoeuvring operations near Tree Lincoln, Triton and Woody Islands in the Paracels Islands. China has been making desperate attempts to monopolise the islands around the South China sea including straits of Island along its coast though disputed strongly by Vietnam and Philippines.
Frocking Ceremony on USS Antietam CG54
As recent as this month of May China has deployed truck-mounted surface to air missile s and anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody Island. Satellite images also confirmed that China’s Airforce landed bombers on disputed Island and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the region. This however raised a lot of concern from Vietnam and the Philippines.
The US has consistently said its forces have the right to operate in any open seas and refused to rule out operating in the South China Sea. The US Pacific Fleet said, “We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigations Operations FONOPS as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future”.
However, China’s Defense Ministry claimed they have sent ships and Aircraft to warn the US warships to leave because they are operating in the area illegally and without permission. According to the Chinese the move “contravened Chinese relevant international law, seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty and harmed strategic mutual trust between the two militaries”
Map of South China Sea
China’s Foreign Ministry thereafter warned that “China will continue to take all necessary measures to defend the country’s sovereignty and security”.
However, the claim of China over the South China Sea through which about $Trillion in seaborne trade passes each year are challenged by the countries of Brunei, Malaysia and Philippines and Vietnam.