Beijing, China. If the US did not have its hands full provoking North Korea, occupying Afghanistan, bombing Syria or financing death in Ukraine, it took on another nation today by provoking the People’s Republic of China.
China protested a US Navy patrol that sent a guided missile destroyer near a group of man-made islands in the South China Sea today, in the first American challenge to Beijing’s claims to the waters since President Trump took office.
The Chinese Defense Ministry told reporters that it had sought an explanation from American officials over the incident, which involved the USS Dewey and took place around Mischief Reef, one of a chain of artificial islands China has built and fortified to assert its claims over the strategic waterway.
America’s naval vessel The Dewey came within six miles of the reef, US defense officials have confirmed to News Front. A Chinese frigate shadowed the American warship during its passage, and two other Chinese vessels were nearby.
Amateur radio operators confirmed The Dewey was challenged 23 times by a Chinese Navy vessel over the radio. The Dewey’s crew responded with standard language identifying their vessel, and stating that it was operating in international waters.
The United States has in the past insisted that it has the right to conduct so-called freedom of navigation operations, in the area because it is in international waters. The Navy conducted similar operations under former President Obama, but had not done so since Mr. Trump took office and began talking up the prospect of warming ties with Beijing and cooperating over issues like North Korea.
“We urge the U.S. to correct this mistake and stop taking further actions so as to avoid hurting peace and security in the region and long-term cooperation between the two countries,” Chinese PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Ren Guoqiang told reporters at a monthly news briefing that a pair of Chinese navy frigates had warned off the American ship after it entered the area without China’s permission.
The defense spokesman added that the U.S. actions not only posed the risk of sparking an accident at sea but would “only motivate the Chinese military to enhance its capacity.”