The conflict over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea does not appear to be going away anytime soon. A US warship criticised Chinese claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea on Thursday, saying they violate international law and “threaten the freedom of the sea.”
“On January 20, USS Benfold (DDG 65) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, in accordance with international law,” the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement. The USS Benfold had rejected China’s excessive claim at the end of the operation and continued to operate in the South China Sea.
It has defended international law’s recognition of rights, freedoms, and lawful use of the sea by challenging restrictions imposed by other countries, including China, under the Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP), according to the statement.
The Chinese claim that the freedom of the seas is in grave jeopardy, according to the US Navy.
“Illegal and widespread maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedoms of the seas, including freedom of navigation and overflight (the flight of an aircraft over a specific area), free trade and unrestricted commerce, and the South China Sea,” according to the statement. “freedom of economic opportunity for China Sea littoral countries.”
China, Taiwan, and Vietnam all claim sovereignty over the area.
“As a result, whenever a military vessel enters a ‘innocent passage’ through a territorial sea, either permission or advance notification from all three claimants is required.” China, Taiwan, and Vietnam all claim sovereignty over the Paracel Islands. Whereas, in international law, such as maritime law, All ships, including warships, have the right to free transportation in ‘flawless passage’ through the territorial sea, as stated in the convention’s law.”
China’s declaration from 1996 is being challenged by the United States.
Separately, the United States has challenged China’s 1996 declaration by including the Paracel Islands’ straight baselines. “It is illegal to draw a straight baseline around the Paracel Islands in their entirety, even if the claimant has sovereignty over these particular territories,” the US stated. The Law of the Maritime Convention reflects international law that is clear and comprehensive about the circumstances in which a country can depart from a ‘normal’ baseline.”
China retaliates forcefully.
Chinese state media reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) expelled an American warship that had entered Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea in response to the US Navy’s operation. China reacted angrily to the presence of a US warship in its territorial waters, which it claims. The Chinese military said in a statement that “the PLA Southern Theater Command used the Navy and Air Force to track, monitor, and destroy the destroyer with a warning.”
What the United States has done is an affront to China’s sovereignty: Military forces in China
“What the US has done seriously violates China’s sovereignty and security, and is another tangible evidence that the US is seeking to increase its hegemony in the seas and militarise the South China Sea,” the Chinese military said. These facts demonstrate unequivocally that the United States is a “risk-taker” in South China and the “greatest destroyer” of peace and stability at sea and in the South China Sea.”
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea. The US State Department released a study report on South China Sea claims last week, which questioned many of Beijing’s claims in the strategically important region.