The US Navy announced today that one of its ships is carrying out an operation in the South China Sea, with Beijing, in military maneuvers around Taiwan, denouncing “the intrusion” of the destroyer.
“This freedom of navigation operation respected the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea,” the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the USS Milius had passed close to the Spratly Islands.
The ship passed less than 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) from Mischief Reef, claimed by China and other countries in the region, added the US Navy.
“The missile destroyer USS Milius illegally entered the waters adjacent to Meiji Reef [official Chinese name for Mischief Reef] in the Nansha [Chinese name for the Spratly] Islands of China without the authorization of the Chinese government,” said the spokesman. of the Southern Theater of Operations Command of the Chinese army Tian Junli.
The Chinese air force “followed and guarded the warship,” it added in a statement.
The passage of this US warship in a contested area occurred when China is carrying out military exercises around Taiwan for the third consecutive day, in protest against a visit to the US by the island’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen.
China said today that it has deployed fighter jets with “live ammunition” and the aircraft carrier Shandong to carry out “mock attacks” on targets in Taiwan, after having surrounded the territory with dozens of planes and warships.
“Several groups of H-6K fighters with live ammunition carried out several simulated attacks on key targets on the island of Taiwan,” said the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command, specifying that the Shandong also “participated in the exercises”.
Beijing claims virtually all of the South China Sea, a strategic trade route rich in energy and fishing resources, but Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also have claims.
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