HomeAsiaSouth China Sea: US Navy warship USS Benfold challenges Chinese territorial claims

South China Sea: US Navy warship USS Benfold challenges Chinese territorial claims

The USS Benfold sailed across the Paracel Islands, often called the Xisha Islands in China, in what the Navy calls a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP), Lt. Mark Langford, spokesperson for the US seventh Fleet, mentioned within the assertion.

The Paracels are a set of 130 small coral islands and reefs within the northwestern a part of the South China Sea. They haven’t any indigenous inhabitants to talk of, solely Chinese navy garrisons amounting to 1,400 individuals, in response to the CIA Factbook.

The US Navy assertion mentioned the Benfold additionally challenged the claims of Vietnam and Taiwan.

“All three claimants require either permission or advance notification before a military vessel engages in ‘innocent passage’ through the territorial sea. Under international law … the ships of all states — including their warships — enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea. The unilateral imposition of any authorization or advance-notification requirement for innocent passage is unlawful,” the US Navy assertion mentioned.

Asserting freedom of navigation rights entails crusing throughout the 12-mile territorial restrict from a nation’s shoreline acknowledged by worldwide regulation.

But the Navy singled out China for making what it calls “straight baselines” enclosing all of the waters throughout the island chain and mentioned the Benfold was difficult these claims too.

“International law does not permit continental States, like the PRC (People’s Republic of China), to establish baselines around entire dispersed island groups,” the US assertion mentioned.

“With these baselines, the PRC has attempted to claim more internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf than it is entitled to under international law,” it mentioned.

China reacted angrily to the presence of the Benfold in what it claims are its territorial waters.

“The PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and air forces to track, monitor and drive away the destroyer with warnings,” an announcement from the Chinese navy mentioned.

“What the US has done seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty and security, and is yet another hard evidence that it is pursuing maritime hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea. Facts fully prove that the US is a ‘risk-maker’ in the South China Sea and the ‘biggest destroyer’ of peace and stability in the South China Sea,” it mentioned.

China claims virtually all the 1.3 million sq. mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory.

Langford mentioned Thursday’s FONOP was the second of this yr towards Chinese claims within the South China Sea, however he harassed it continues a longstanding US navy observe.

“US forces operate in the South China Sea on a daily basis, as they have for more than a century,” the US Navy assertion mentioned.

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