China accuses USA of violating maritime border in South China sea incident

Jan 22, 2018, 00:07
China accuses USA of violating maritime border in South China sea incident

In this latest clash over freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, the USS "Hopper" missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan Dao, a tiny island claimed by China, on January 17. United States vessels have conducted a series of "freedom of navigation" patrols in the region.

The USS Hopper carried out an "innocent passage" not a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) within 12 miles of Scarborough Shoal on Wednesday evening, said a US official who also said the "message" is the same as with a FONOP.

Global law, under normal circumstances, gives countries sovereignty over waters 12 nautical miles from their coastlines.

Military tensions between the USA and China have flared up in 2018.

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China effectively seized the shoal - a prime fishing spot - from the Philippines in 2012 after a tense standoff.

The previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III filed an worldwide arbitration case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hauge.

The Philippines, which has been warming up to China since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, is keeping its hands off the issue. The Philippine government has dismissed protests from pioneers of the case against China. The vessel has been dispatched for "security cooperation, building partner capacity, and performing routine operations within the area".

Mr Kang added that China "firmly opposes" efforts to use freedom of navigation as an excuse to hurt its sovereignty and urged the United States to "correct its mistakes".

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The U.S. fears the outposts could be used to restrict free movement in the waterway - which includes vital sea lanes through which about $3 trillion in global trade passes each year - and has conducted several so-called freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the area.

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.

Aside from the Philippines and China, other claimants in the disputed waters are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. The tribunal ruled in 2016 that the "nine-dash line" which underpins Beijing's claim to most of the South China Sea had no legal basis.

The shoal, which China calls Huangyan Dao, is about 120 miles west of Luzon in the Philippines.

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