China says it drove away US warship after chasing out of a disputed sea

16:27, 12 July 2021
China says it drove away US warship after chasing out of a disputed sea Photo: States Coast Guard, Petty Officer Jonathan R. Cilley/СС0

China's military said it "drove away" a US warship that illegally entered Chinese waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Monday.

Earlier the day, the USS Benfold entered a disputed area of the sea without China's approval, violating its sovereignty and undermining the stability of the region, the southern theatre command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) said.

"We urge the United States to immediately stop such provocative actions," says the statement.

Chinese forces "warned them and drove them away," the Chinese military said on its social media account.

According to the US Navy officials, the Benfold asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands consistent with international law.

"USS Benfold conducted a Freedom of Navigation Operation near the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law, challenging unlawful restrictions on innocent passage imposed by claimants", US Navy 7th Fleet officials tweeted.

"The international law of the sea as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention provides for certain rights and freedoms and other lawful uses of the sea to all nations," says the statement.

The islands are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, which require either permission or advance notification before a military ship passes through.

"Under international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, the ships of all states, including their warships, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea," US Navy said.

Beijing rejected the Biden administration’s declaration of support for an international tribunal ruling in favor of the Philippines.

The panel’s ruling was "a political farce," as China’s territorial claims have "sufficient historical and legal basis," said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian. "China firmly deplores and rejects the wrongdoings of the United States."

China’s 1996 declaration of straight baselines encompassing the Paracel Islands says the claimant has sovereignty over the islands, straight baselines cannot lawfully be drawn around the Paracel Islands in their entirety. The 2016 tribunal ruling rejected China’s claims outside its internationally recognized territorial waters.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reminded Beijing of American defense commitments, as stated in the 1951 treaty, in case of an attack on Philippine vessels or aircraft Washington and Manila obligated to come to each other’s aid.