Chinese angry at U.S. probe in South China Sea

Violet Powell
January 22, 2018

China said it dispatched its own warship to shoo away U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Hopper for supposedly violating its "sovereignty" when it sailed within 12 nautical miles of Panatag's waters on Wednesday, January 17.

China's defence ministry dismissed those claims on Saturday, saying "the situation in the South China Sea has steadily stabilised", in comments attributed to spokesman Wu Qian.

"We hope that the USA respects China's sovereignty, respects the efforts by regional countries and do not make trouble out of nothing", Wu said.

The U.S. Navy periodically conducts freedom of navigation operations, or FONOPs, near disputed islands in the South China Sea.

"But we firmly oppose any country using navigation and overflight freedom as an excuse to hurt China's sovereignty and security interests".

China's Defense ministry echoed Lu's tone in a separate statement on Saturday, stressing that the military will step up vigilance against air and sea patrols to defend national and regional peace and stability.

Known in Chinese as Huangyan Island, it lies about 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of the main Philippine island of Luzon, and about 600 kilometers (370 miles) southeast of China.

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan said: "All operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever global law allows".

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The Philippines has sparred with China for decades over what it says is aggressive conduct at the Scarborough Shoal.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea despite rival claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and others.

China says it wants to settle any territorial disputes over the South China Sea through bilateral negotiations.

His statement on the ministry's website continued: "We hope that the USA respects China's sovereignty, respects the efforts by regional countries and do not make trouble out of nothing".

Tensions over China's aggressive stance toward its territoriality in the South China Sea has flustered its relations with the USA and its allies.

Beijing asserts sovereignty over nearly all of the resource-rich South China Sea despite rival claims from Southeast Asian neighbours and has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

While Beijing and Manila have a long history of maritime squabbles over sovereignty in the South China Sea, especially over the tiny shoal, those tensions have eased under the Philippine's China-friendly leader Rodrigo Duterte.

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