China Sends Forces to Intercept U.S. Warships amid Rising Tensions in Asia-Pacific

The military of China has made a move to intercept U.S. battleships that have sailed through the South China Sea in a string of tensions in the region of the Asia and Pacific, Newsweek reported.

The USS McCampbell guided-missile warship was deployed by the U.S. Navy some 12 nautical miles from the Paracel Islands. According to the spokesperson of the Pacific Fleet, Rachel McMarr, the move was part of an operation called “freedom of navigation” that is aiming “to challenge excessive maritime claims,” though she claimed there was no specific target or political message, Reuters reported. Beijing has harshly criticized the maneuver.

Later that day, during a press conference, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the United States sent a ship into the area  “without permission from the Chinese side.”

“The Chinese side immediately sent military vessels and aircraft to conduct verification and identification on the U.S. ship and warned it to leave,” Lu told the briefing. “We have lodged stern representations with the U.S. side.”

This same area is also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan, as well as Vietnam. Both Taiwan and Vietnam also claim the Paracel Islands, and the U.S. has contended that its ships passed through only international waters, which Chinese officials refuted.

“The relevant action by the U.S. vessel violated Chinese laws and relevant international laws, infringed upon China’s sovereignty, and undermined peace, security, and order of the relevant waters,” Lu said. “The Chinese side firmly opposes the relevant action by the U.S. side and urges the U.S. to immediately stop such provocations. We will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard our national sovereignty and security.”

According to Senior Colonel Li, China has responded to the passage of the McCampbell by deploying forces, to which the colonel added that the Southern Theater Command “will remain on high alert, closely monitor relevant maritime and air situations, and resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty and security.”

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