US Naval forces are, for a third time, entering a disputed region in the South China Sea using a carrier group to test the waters while claiming they are merely exercising “freedom of navigation,” according to China Cheat Sheets. However, China has rebuked the effort as a violation of their state sovereignty and a direct challenge to their national interests.
According to maritime law, a given state rules the ocean up to 12 nautical miles away from their shore creating an extended border from the shore. Such a rule also applies to islands including those claimed by China in the South China Sea which are also claimed by other countries.
Chinese naval patrol boats have already followed several US ships navigating the area. The confrontations have also been further souring US-Chinese relations.
News of American plans to infiltrate the South China Seas were revealed only shortly after US President Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at last week’s nuclear security summit in Washington. The US has argued that they have every right to engage in such “freedom of navigation” activities but Chinese President Xi Jinping responded telling Xinhua that they would not tolerate violations of their sovereignty under such a pretext.
“China respects and protects the freedom of air and maritime navigation of all countries, based on international law. At the same time, Beijing will not accept any action that damages China’s state sovereignty and national interests under the pretext of freedom of navigation,” Xi said.