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China Responds to U.S. Provocations in South China Sea

Oct. 2, 2018 (EIRNS)—China has responded vigorously to the “freedom of navigation” incident during which the guided missile destroyer USS Decatur sailed within 12 miles of Chinese-claimed reefs in the Spratly Islands on Sept. 30. Wu Qian, spokesman of China’s Ministry of National Defense, said today that China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters, reported the China Daily. However, the U.S. sent vessels to enter the China South Sea without permission, threatening China’s sovereignty and security and harming the two countries’ and militaries’ relationship, as well as the region’s peace and stability.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying issued a similar statement criticizing the U.S. provocation.

“We strongly urge the U.S. side to immediately correct its mistake and stop such provocative actions to avoid undermining China-U.S. relations and regional peace and stability,”

she said. “The Chinese side will take all necessary measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and security.”

Nonetheless, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is downplaying the rising tensions between the U.S. and China, despite the spate of recent incidents and the cancellation of the U.S.-China 2+2 meeting, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and China’s Defense and Foreign Ministers, that had been set for Beijing later this month. “There’s tension points in the relationship, but based on discussions coming out of New York last week and other things that we have coming up, we do not see it getting worse,” Mattis told reporters traveling with him to Paris, reported Associated Press. “We’ll sort this out,” he said.

The incident with the USS Decatur in the South China Sea appears to be the most serious of such incidents in recent weeks, following as it did last week’s flights of two B-52s over the sea, the earlier U.S. sanctions imposed on China’s military procurement agency for buying Russian hardware, and the U.S. $330 million arms deal with Taiwan. Yesterday, a U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman told CNN that the Chinese destroyer that was sent out in response to the Decatur’s presence came within 45 yards of the U.S. ship in an “unsafe and unprofessional maneuver.” The spokesman said the Chinese warship “conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for the Decatur to depart the area.”

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