China expels US military ship in South China Sea: Beijing
Beijing, Mar 23 (EFE).- China’s army said Thursday that it expelled a United States warship from what it claimed was its waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, an area in which Beijing disputes territory with Southeast Asian countries.
“The USS Milius guided missile destroyer illegally broke into China’s Xisha territorial waters without the approval of the Chinese government, undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea,” the People’s Liberation Army’s Southern Theater Command spokesman Tian Junli said in a statement.
According to Tian, sea and air forces were organized to track, monitor, warn and drive away the US warship.
“The theater troops will maintain a high level of alert at all times and take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea,” the spokesperson added.
Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told the state Global Times newspaper on Thursday that “the PLA will not give an inch when it comes to territorial integrity.”
In February, Beijing warned a US P-8A reconnaissance plane carrying journalists over the South China Sea that it was getting too close to its airspace.
Song claimed that these last two incidents combined seek to hype a “China threat” and throw mud at the country.
These types of close reconnaissance operations are also carried out under tactical consideration in preparation for a possible military conflict, Song warned.
Tension in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan have ongoing territorial disputes with Beijing, has increased in recent years with altercations, cross accusations between the claimant governments and an increase in Chinese military presence in the area.
Washington accuses Beijing of coercing and intimidating the countries in the area and describes their territorial claims as illegal, emphasizing rulings such as that in which The Hague’s international arbitration court in 2016 repudiated China’s claims to the South China Sea in favor of the Philippines. EFE