Respect Chinese sovereignty in South China Sea, Beijing warns Washington

Catherine Wong

Beijing has accused Washington of “stirring up trouble” with its planned increase in naval operations in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said China resolutely opposed the plan, describing it as a violation of its sovereignty and security, as well as reflecting “disregard for international laws and rules”.

“The Chinese military will take resolute measures to safeguard national sovereignty and security, and to safeguard peace and stability in the region,” Ren said in Beijing on Thursday.

“China has indisputable sovereignty over various islands in the South China Sea and its adjacent waters, and the current situation in the South China Sea is generally stable, thanks to the efforts made by China together with the Asean countries.

“We call on the US side to respect China’s sovereignty and security … and not to stir up trouble in the South China Sea.”

The United States has already conducted two freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea this year, with both actions triggering condemnation from Beijing.

In January, the USS McCampbell sailed near the Paracel Islands and, on February 11, the USS Spruance and the USS Preble sailed near Mischief Reef in the Spratlys.

The US has also carried out joint exercises in the region this year with the British Royal Navy.

US and British navies carry out first joint drill in disputed South China Sea

The head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February that more freedom of navigation operations would be carried out in the region by the US and its allies, including Britain, to send a message that the international community did not accept China’s claims.

Davidson said Beijing was spreading its influence “through fear and coercion”, and urged the committee to increase funding in the region to counter Beijing’s influence there.

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