China drives away USS Milius, tells US to stop provocation
Beijing: After the American Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius “illegally” entered the territorial waters near China’s Xisha Islands (also known as Paracel Islands) without the Chinese government’s permission today, Beijing asked Washington to immediately stop such “infringement and provocation”.
China’s Southern Theater Command announced that it drove away the US warship, which the US Navy’s 7th Fleet reportedly termed as “false”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the US move violated China’s sovereignty, posed a threat to China’s security and jeopardized the peace and stability in the relevant waters.
“The Chinese PLA Southern Theater Command conducted whole-process tracking and monitoring on the US destroyer in accordance with the law, and warned it off,” Wenbin said.
China said it will continue to take “all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and security, and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea”.
Meanwhile, Lt. j.g. Luka Bakic in response to a query from The Associated Press, claimed “USS Milius is conducting routine operations in the South China Sea and was not expelled”. USS Milius is assigned to Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the US Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the US 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.
It may be mentioned that the ownership of the Xisha or Paracel islands remains hotly contested with China, Vietnam, and Taiwan all claiming de jure sovereignty, although China has de facto control of the islands.
– global bihari bureau