A day after China accused a United States’ frigate of trespassing in a part of the South China Sea (SCS) where it is holding naval exercises including firing of the DF-16 anti-ship missile dubbed ‘carrier killer,’ the US commerce department sanctioned several Chinese companies involved in construction of SCS islands besides accusing Beijing of escalating the militarization of the SCS.
The Trump administration on Wednesday added two dozen Chinese companies to a government list that bans them from buying American products.
In a statement August 27, the Defense Department said it is “concerned about the People’s Republic of China (PRC) recent decision to conduct military exercises, including the firing of ballistic missiles, around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on August 23-29.”
According to reports, the Chinese military fired DF-21 and DF-26 missiles into the hotly contested SCS during naval exercises. “The PRC’s actions, including missile tests, further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea. This military exercise is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the SCS,” the statement read.
Such exercises violate PRC commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, and call into question its motivations with ongoing negotiations for a Code of Conduct between China and ASEAN.
While the U.S. claims PRC’s actions "are against US’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” China accuses America of ignoring rules of the international law and repeatedly stirring up trouble in the disputed sea.
"The U.S. Navy exercised navigational hegemony in the name of freedom of navigation, seriously undermined China's sovereignty and security interests, and severely sabotaged the international navigation order in the South China Sea,” Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesperson for the PLA Southern Theater Command, was quoted as saying by Global Times Friday.
The Pentagon said China had pledged to not militarize the South China Sea. “The Department of Defense alerted the PRC in July that we would continue to monitor the situation with the expectation that the PRC will reduce its militarization and coercion of its neighbors in the South China Sea. The PRC chose to escalate its exercise activities by firing ballistic missiles. We urge all parties to exercise restraint and not undertake military activities that could threaten freedom of navigation and aggravate disputes in the South China Sea.”