War of Trolls: Chinese State Media Chief, US Navy Poke Each Other Over ‘Freedom of Navigation’
17:38 GMT 08.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
Earlier today, China called the US the “biggest destroyer of peace” after US warship the USS Benfold sailed past the contentious Spratly Islands in the South China Sea (SCS), which is also one of the world’s busiest maritime trade lanes.
Twitter on Wednesday witnessed an open squabble between the US Navy and the editor-In-chief of China's Global Times, Hu Xijin. The spat began after the US Navy's chief of information took to Twitter and shared a US Pacific Fleet post announcing that the USS Benfold had conducted a freedom of navigation operation in ear the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
However, China's military spokesperson claimed that the People's Liberation Army had expelled a US destroyer that trespassed in China's territorial waters near the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, vowing that force would resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and maintain peace and stability in the region.
Later in the day, the US Navy stated, without specifying, that the PLA Navy's claim about the mission was false. Later, Hu Xijin hit back at the US Navy.
"Hopefully when Chinese warships pass through the Caribbean Sea or show up near Hawaii and Guam one day, the US will uphold the same standard of freedom of navigation. That day will come soon", The Global Time Editor-in-Chief tweeted.
This, however, it seems, did not go well with the US Navy and they slammed Hu in a series of tweets. "The US Navy has upheld the standards of freedom of navigation longer than the PLA navy has existed", it tweeted.
"The history of some Chinese dynasties is longer than the US’s. When Zheng He made voyages in the Ming Dynasty, Columbus who discovered the New World was not yet born. The US arrogantly regards power as rule. China’s long civilization has recorded many such lessons", Hu replied.
The South China Sea, located in the Asian-Pacific region, is a source of tension for China and its neighbours, as some East Asian countries continue to argue over the waters' maritime borders. Beijing, in particular, considers the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea as its territory, despite an international tribunal ruling that the claims have no legal basis.