The Chinese military has accused the American warship of making an unauthorised entry into the waters surrounding the Paracel Islands (China calls it Xisha Islands).
On Thursday, Tian Junli, a spokesman for the Southern Zone Combat Command of the People’s Liberation Army of China, stated that the American missile destroyer USS Milius entered the seas of the disputed Xisha Islands in the South China Sea without the approval of the Chinese side.
Tian Junli stated that the United States missile destroyer USS Milius had illegally entered the territorial waters of China’s Xisha archipelago on March 23 without permission from the Chinese government, thereby jeopardising peace and stability in the South China Sea.
He noted that a PLA Navy grouping assigned to the Southern Combat Command Zone had escorted the American ship and warned it to leave the region.
Tian Junli emphasised that the PLA Combat Command South Zone troops will continue to maintain a high level of combat readiness and take all necessary steps to resolutely preserve the state’s sovereignty and security, as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea. These statements were made in response to a question regarding whether or not the troops will continue to maintain a high level of combat readiness.
Over several decades, Beijing has been engaged in a dispute with several countries in the Asia-Pacific area regarding the territorial ownership of several islands in the South China Sea. These islands are located on a region’s shelf containing large petroleum deposits. It includes the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands (especially Pag-asa island or Titu), and Scarborough Reef (Chinese call it Huangyan). This conflict involves Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines to varied degrees, depending on which country you ask.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the passage of warships from the United States into Chinese territorial waters violates international law and threatens China’s sovereignty and state security. This complicates the situation in the region. Despite protests from Beijing, the official Washington spokesperson for the United States claimed that the country would “float and fly” wherever international law permitted it.
A case brought up by the Philippines and heard by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in July 2016 resulted in the court reaching the conclusion that China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea were unfounded. The court concluded that the contested regions in the Nansha (Spratly) archipelago are not islands and do not constitute an exclusive economic zone. After that, Beijing responded that it did not acknowledge the decision made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and did not accept or recognise the ruling.