South China Sea: US Navy warship USS Benfold issues Chinese territorial statements

The USS Benfold sailed all-around the Paracel Islands, recognized as the Xisha Islands in China, in what the Navy phone calls a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP), Lt. Mark Langford, spokesperson for the US 7th Fleet, stated in the statement.

The Paracels are a assortment of 130 compact coral islands and reefs in the northwestern section of the South China Sea. They have no indigenous population to discuss of, only Chinese armed service garrisons amounting to 1,400 individuals, in accordance to the CIA Factbook.

The US Navy statement explained the Benfold also challenged the statements of Vietnam and Taiwan.

“All 3 claimants demand possibly authorization or progress notification right before a armed forces vessel engages in ‘innocent passage’ by means of the territorial sea. Under global legislation … the ships of all states — like their warships — appreciate the suitable of innocent passage by way of the territorial sea. The unilateral imposition of any authorization or progress-notification necessity for harmless passage is unlawful,” the US Navy statement explained.

Asserting liberty of navigation rights involves sailing in the 12-mile territorial restrict from a nation’s shoreline regarded by worldwide law.

But the Navy singled out China for producing what it calls “straight baselines” enclosing all the waters in just the island chain and claimed the Benfold was challenging those people claims as well.

“Worldwide law does not allow continental States, like the PRC (People’s Republic of China), to build baselines all-around overall dispersed island groups,” the US statement mentioned.

“With these baselines, the PRC has attempted to claim more interior waters, territorial sea, unique financial zone, and continental shelf than it is entitled to beneath worldwide legislation,” it explained.

China reacted angrily to the presence of the Benfold in what it statements are its territorial waters.

“The PLA Southern Theater Command structured naval and air forces to observe, keep track of and generate absent the destroyer with warnings,” a statement from the Chinese military services said.

“What the US has carried out severely infringes on China’s sovereignty and protection, and is nevertheless a different tricky evidence that it is pursuing maritime hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea. Specifics thoroughly show that the US is a ‘risk-maker’ in the South China Sea and the ‘biggest destroyer’ of peace and security in the South China Sea,” it stated.

China claims pretty much all of the 1.3 million sq. mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory.

Langford reported Thursday’s FONOP was the second of this yr versus Chinese claims in the South China Sea — the USS Benfold also sailed around the Spratly Islands on Tuesday — but he stressed it continues a longstanding US armed forces follow.

“US forces operate in the South China Sea on a everyday foundation, as they have for much more than a century,” the US Navy statement stated.

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