The Chinese military said it dispatched units to warn off the US’ guided missile destroyer, the USS Benfold, which it claimed trespassed into the territorial waters of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on July 12.
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theatre Command spokesman Air Force Senior Colonel Tian Junli urged the US to immediately stop “provocations”.
Tian said the islands are Chinese territory, and the US military actions have severely undermined China’s sovereignty and security, disrupted peace and stability in the South China Sea, and are in violation of international laws.
“It is further irrefutable proof that the US is exercising naval hegemony to push for the militarisation of the South China Sea,” he said. “The US will be responsible for the consequences of its actions.”
The US Navy dismissed the claim as “false”, saying the USS Benfold’s operation merely sought to challenge “the unlawful restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam”.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK