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Chinese Fighter Jets, Ships Warn Off USS Stethem Sailing Near S China Sea Island

© AFP 2022 / JOHANNES EISELEThe guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) arrives at the Wusong military port in Shanghai. (File)
The guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) arrives at the Wusong military port in Shanghai. (File) - Sputnik International
The Chinese Foreign Ministry voiced protest over US destroyer Stethem sailing close to disputed islands in the South China Sea.

US Air Force B-1B bomber. (File) - Sputnik International
China Says it Monitors Military Activities in S China Sea Amid US Jets' Drills
According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, the USS Stethem missile destroyer trespassed Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha/Paracel Islands in South China Sea on July 2.

In its turn, Beijing "dispatched military vessels and fighter planes in response to warn off the US vessel."

The Chinese ministry described the US aircraft carrier's "entry into the territorial sea of China" as a "provocation."

"Under the pretext of "navigation freedom", the US side once again sent a military vessel into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China's approval. Its behavior has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China's sovereignty, disrupted peace, security and order of the relevant waters and put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands, and thus constitutes a serious political and military provocation. The Chinese side is dissatisfied with and opposed to the relevant behavior of the US side."

The Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the US to "immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China's sovereignty and threaten China's security," adding that Beijing will continue to take measures to defend its national sovereignty.

Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, photographed by a USN surveillance aircraft in 2015 - Sputnik International
US Destroyer in S China Sea Not the Last Episode in Washington-Beijing Standoff
Beijing cited the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, which proclaimed the baseline of the Xinsha Islands 21 years ago. "The relevant Chinese law has explicit provisions on foreign military vessels' entry into the territorial sea of China," it added.

The South China Sea area, where Xisha/Paracel Islands are located, is a disputed region claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam, as it is believed that it has vast energy resources. Chinese authorities claim 90 percent of the area and have repeatedly said that the country's activities in the region are China's sovereign right.

Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft. (File) - Sputnik International
Chinese Fighter Jets Intercept US Navy Aircraft Over S China Sea - Reports
Earlier, Japan and Australia reiterated their calls for the US to stick with its longstanding policy of conducting freedom-of-navigation operations in the region.

In May, the USS Dewey, a United States Navy guided-missile destroyer also conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea. The ship sailed around Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Island chain. The Chinese Defense Ministry accused Washington of militarization of the South China Sea region, following the sailing of the USS Dewey near the Mischief Reef.

Also in May, Chinese fighter jets reportedly came within 100 feet of US anti-submarine and maritime surveillance P-3 Orion aircraft over the South China Sea.

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