China Claims It Chased U.S. Destroyer Away From Disputed Paracel Islands
SOUTH CHINA SEA - Chinese military is claiming that it drove a U.S. destroyer, the USS Benfold, away from the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday, after claiming the ship had entered its territorial waters illegally, according to Reuters.
Ever since China has claimed the South China Sea as its territorial waters, the U.S. Navy has been conducting Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea as its way of protesting the claims.
China's Claims on the South China Sea
- By using domestic law, China has put claims over the South China Sea into International context and expanded its influence over disputed maritime areas.
- A speech made at the United Nations in 2009 which stated China's ambitious claims over the South China Sea has been regularly used by China as it was not disputed due to context.
- "China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, and enjoy sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil thereof."
- In 2013, a restructuring of maritime law, by China's executive branch, has extended its sovereignty to increase dominance and maintain "strategic management of the sea."
"The USS Benfold asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law... ...Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade, and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations." - United States Navy
China is claiming that freedom of navigation was not hampered, nor are overflights, and is claiming that the United States is attempting to provoke a response from the People's Republic of China, thus escalating tensions in the area.
The Southern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army in China has stated, that the ship has seriously violated China's sovereignty and security by entering the territorial waters illegally, on its voyage near and around the Paracel Islands. The Paracel Islands are also in disputed claims between Vietnam, Taiwan, & China as well.