China took issue with an American guided-missile destroyer that was spotted near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea in July.
USS Benfold had been navigating through the waters under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which allows a vessel to conduct an innocent passage if it does not harm the peace, order or security of a coastal state.
The US Seventh Fleet said restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China and other claimants to the islands breached international law.
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Senior Colonel Tian Junli, a spokesman for the PLA Southern Theatre Command, disagreed.
The “actions by the US military seriously infringed on China’s sovereignty and security, seriously undermined peace and stability in the South China Sea, and seriously violated international law and norms of international relations,” he said, according to Reuters.
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Tian further accused the U.S. of “navigational hegemony,” adding that the USS Benfold was shadowed, monitored, and warned off by the Chinese Army as it entered Chinese territorial waters illegally and without the approval of the Chinese administration.
This came a day after the sixth anniversary of an international tribunal ruling, which said China had no historic rights over most of its South China Sea claims. China rejected the ruling.
This story was originally published on Jul. 13, 2022.
USS Benfold image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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