China warns US after warship sails by man-made islands

2015-10-28 06:16
The USS Lassen anchored in Yokosuka near Tokyo. (File, Koji Sasahara, AP)

The USS Lassen anchored in Yokosuka near Tokyo. (File, Koji Sasahara, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beijing - China has reacted angrily after a US naval warship sailed through disputed waters of the South China Sea, saying the move threatened its "sovereignty".

A Chinese guided-missile destroyer and a naval patrol ship shadowed and gave warnings to the US warship "according to law", China's defence ministry said on Tuesday.

The US patrol was a "coercive action that seeks to militarise the South China Sea region" and an "abuse" of freedom of navigation under international law, it added.

Beijing said that the USS Lassen illegally entered Chinese territory when it sailed early on Tuesday near the Spratly, or Nansha, group of islands.

"The action... threatened China's sovereignty and security interests, endangered the safety of staff and equipment on those islands and harmed regional peace and stability," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

Lu said Washington should "correct the mistake immediately" to avoid "further harm" to Chinese-US relations.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter, testifying on Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the USS Lassen had passed within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island.

'Extremely irresponsible'

China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui summoned US Ambassador Max Baucus, telling him that the patrol was "extremely irresponsible," the foreign ministry said.

It earlier said the USS Lassen "illegally" entered waters near islands and reefs in the Spratlys without the Chinese government's permission.

"China will resolutely respond to any country's deliberate provocations," the ministry said in a statement that gave no details on precisely where the US ship sailed.

In Washington, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby told a regular briefing that "setting this aside, the US-China relationship is vitally important and one we want to see continue to improve and to grow for the benefit of both our countries, not to mention the region".

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 12-nautical mile limits cannot be set around man-made islands built on previously submerged reefs.

Pentagon officials say the US regularly conducts freedom-of-navigation operations around the world to challenge excessive maritime claims. The US Navy last went within 12 miles of Chinese-claimed territory in the Spratlys in 2012.

Freedom of navigation

"Freedom of navigation operations serve to protect the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law," a Pentagon spokesperson, Commander Bill Urban, told DPA news agency on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a US official told AFP news agency that the US Navy will send more warships to sail close to the artificial islands.

The Philippines, which has filed an arbitration case with the United Nations questioning China's sweeping claims over the sea, led US allies in the region in hailing the warship's passage through the disputed waters.

"I think everybody would welcome a balance of power anywhere in the world," Philippine President Benigno Aquino said.

China has been on a reclamation and construction spree in the disputed South China Sea despite objections by other claimants, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping lane, with overlapping claims to the sea's potentially rich mineral resources.

Read more on:    us  |  china

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.