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U.S. warships sail in disputed South China Sea amid tensions

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U.S. warships sail in disputed South China Sea amid tensions

By Idrees Ali

 

2019-11-21T231445Z_1_LYNXMPEFAK1VL_RTROPTP_4_USA-CHINA.JPG

FILE PHOTO: U.S. and Chinese flags are seen before Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Navy warships, on two occasions in the past few days, have sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea, the U.S. military told Reuters on Thursday, at a time of tension between the world's two largest economies.

 

The busy waterway is one of a number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which include a trade war, U.S. sanctions, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Earlier this week during high-level talks, China called on the U.S. military to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and adding "new uncertainties" over democratic Taiwan, which is claimed by China as a wayward province.

 

The U.S. Navy regularly vexes China by conducting what it calls "freedom of navigation" operations by ships close to some of the islands China occupies, asserting freedom of access to international waterways.

 

On Wednesday, the littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords traveled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, Commander Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet, told Reuters.

 

On Thursday, the destroyer Wayne E. Meyer challenged restrictions on innocent passage in the Paracel islands, Mommsen said.

 

"These missions are based in the rule of law and demonstrate our commitment to upholding the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations," she added.

 

China claims almost all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, where it has established military outposts on artificial islands. However, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the sea.

 

The United States accuses China of militarising the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbors who might want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves.

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper met Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe earlier this week for closed-door talks on the sidelines of a gathering of defense ministers in Bangkok.

 

Wei urged Esper to "stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea," a Chinese spokesman said.

 

Esper has accused Beijing of "increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives" in the region.

 

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Sandra Maler and Rosalba O'Brien)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-11-22
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4 minutes ago, rabas said:

Actually, only China or its communist party. Everyone else wants free navigation of international waters.

China is preventing that how exactly?

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8 minutes ago, Thainesss said:

 

Good. 

 

China needs to wind its sh*t back in.

Commie dictators need to know they do not get to do as they please and harass every other SEA nation as they wish. 

 

They need to know that outside of their borders, they can't just kill people and put them in re-education camps as they choose. 

Harass them how exactly?

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I wouldn’t say that the Navy sailing near the disputed islands in international waters is wrong but it is provocative. Can’t deny that. 

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