Daily US Times: A US Navy ship sailed near disputed China-controlled islands in the South China Sea on Thursday — just hours after Joe Biden said the US must protect open access to the waterway.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur performed what the United States Navy calls a “freedom of navigation” operation near the Paracel Islands, Lt. j.g. Nicholas Lingo, spokesperson for the US 7th Fleet, said in a statement asserting “navigational rights and freedoms… consistent with international law.”
China calls the Paracels, the Xisha Islands, which located in the northwestern portion of the South China Sea. They have been under China’s control for more than four decades — despite competing claims from Taiwan and Vietnam — and China has fortified them with military installations.
China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea as its territory, said the movement of the US Navy ship violated its sovereignty.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said in a statement that PLA warships and planes followed the US ship.
Tian Junli, spokesperson of the PLA’s Southern Theater Command, said in the statement: “US behavior violates international law and basic norms of international relations, increases regional security risks, and are prone to misunderstandings, misjudgments, and accidents at sea.”
But President Biden, in a speech at the US Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, accused China and Russia — of “disruptive actions” challenging decades-old international rules protecting maritime commerce in the South China Sea and other waterways.
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