The Chinese Navy has claimed to have expelled the US Navy’s USS Mustin guided-missile destroyer that trespassed into its territorial waters off Xisha islands in South China Sea (SCS) on Thursday.
A month ago, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) said it followed USS Barry (DDG-52) guided-missile destroyer off Xisha islands. However, US Navy said that the warship conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the vicinity of the island chain off Vietnam.
“The PLA Southern Theater Command troops followed and monitored USS Mustin’s course, identified the ship, warned and expelled it,” Senior Colonel Li Huamin, spokesperson of the PLA Southern Theater Command, said in a written statement on Thursday.
China expects foreign ships to request permission before passing within 12 nautical miles of the Xisha islands (Paracel islands) which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
This provocative move, a naked hegemonic navigational action, seriously violated China's sovereignty and security interests and related international law and norms, and seriously sabotaged peace and stability in the South China Sea region, the spokesperson said.
“The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG-89) conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) past the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea Thursday,” the US Navy said in a statement to USNI.
“While the US is attempting to make such operations routine, the PLA has showed it is ready and able to stop these US military actions,” a Chinese military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times.
Similar incidents occurred in late January with the littoral combat ship USS Montgomery near the Nansha Islands; and in early March with the destroyer USS McCampbell near the Xisha Islands.