Thursday, 19 September, 2019

U.S. should immediately stop provocative action in South China Sea: China

The operation was carried out by US destroyer Preble The operation was carried out by US destroyer Preble
Patty Aguilar | 21 May, 2019, 14:16

Competing claims in April 2012 led to a standoff between naval and coast guard vessels from the Philippines - a US ally - and China at Scarborough Shoal, which lies 120 nautical miles west of the Philippine island of Luzon, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

For the second time in the past week, the United States has sent a ship into the vicinity of a South China Sea islet claimed by China, the Philippines and Taiwan.

The actions of USA destroyer Preble may lead to an escalation in tensions between the two countries at a time when they are embroiled in a trade war.

The tough talk capped a week that saw China unveil new retaliatory tariffs in response to a USA decision to raise its levies on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% from 10%.

"I must stress once again that the USA warship's relevant actions have violated China's sovereignty and undermined the peace, security and good order in the relevant sea areas".

The United States was trying to disturb regional peace and stability by using the issue of freedom of navigation and flight, he added.

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"We strongly urge the US side to immediately stop such provocative actions so as to not harm China-US relations and the peace and stability of the region", said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a press briefing. The US destroyer Preble had carried out the operation.

"After a sharp drop-off in activity from 2016 to late 2018, Chinese clam harvesting fleets have returned to the South China Sea in force over the last six months", AMTI said in a report published Monday. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea, including on the Spratlys.

Scarborough Shoal, which is also claimed by the Philippines and Taiwan, is regarded as a potential powder keg in the strategic waterway. "That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

Images captured in December 2018 showed the presence of even more clam boats around Scarborough Shoal, known locally as the Panatag Shoal, with reefs seeing deeper damage as of March 8.

"We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future", Keiley said. Last week, an America naval official said its freedom of navigation movements in the region were "drawing more attention than they deserved".

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