The US has denied that its warship, USS Milius, was driven out by China in the South China Sea. Photo/USNI News
WASHINGTON – United States of America (US) disputed the claim China that its military has removed American guided-missile destroyers from operations around disputed islands in the South China Sea (SCS). It comes as tensions rise in the region between the two powers.
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said that statements from China’s Southern Theater Command that it had forced the USS Milius away from the waters around the Paracel Islands – called Xisha by China – were “false.”
“USS Milius was conducting routine operations in the South China Sea and was not driven away,” said Lt. jg Luka Bakic responding to questions from The Associated Press, Thursday (23/3/2023).
“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits,” Bakic added.
Bakic did not comment on whether the ship had been operating near the Paracel Islands, which are in the South China Sea several hundred kilometers off the coast of Vietnam and the Chinese province of Hainan, or whether there had been any confrontation.
China occupies the Paracel Islands, but it is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
China’s Southern Theater Command spokesman, Colonel Tian Junli, said earlier that the Chinese navy had been following and monitoring the USS Milius after it illegally entered China’s Xisha territorial waters without the consent of the Chinese government, undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea.
He said that China’s navy and air force then expelled the US warships in accordance with the law.
“The theater force will maintain a state of high alert at all times and take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he said.
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