Chinese naval and aerial forces followed US guided missile destroyer USS Barry when it ‘trespassed’ into China's territorial waters off Xisha Islands in South China Sea (SCS), warned and expelled it, Chinese Navy has claimed.
The incident happened near Xisha island today, Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesperson of the PLA Southern Theater Command said on Twitter and to local media.
This is the first time the PLA Southern Theater Command has announced an ‘illegal trespass of a US warship into waters off the Xisha Islands, and also the first time that an announcement was made on the same day since similar arrangements began in November 2018,” Li said.
“The US' provocative actions seriously violated international law and related norms, seriously violated Chinese sovereignty and security interests, and intentionally increased regional security risks,” Li was quoted as saying.
However, US Navy confirmed that guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52) conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the vicinity of the island chain off Vietnam.
A US Navy official told USNI News that the operation proceeded as planned without encountering any unsafe or unprofessional behavior from Chinese military aircraft or warships.
In addition to the presence operations, the destroyer has been active in the South China Sea operating with guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) off the coast of Malaysia near an ongoing dispute over mineral exploration between Malaysia and China.