Furious China Says It "Expelled" US Destroyer That "Illegally" Entered Territorial Waters
China is furious and has lashed out Thursday over allegations that a US warship entered Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea. It comes two days after a PLA Navy ship followed the USS Curtis Wilbur as it conducted a "routine transit" through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday.
The newest incident appears to be more serious, with a Chinese military statement now accusing the same ship, the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilber, of traversing and violating waters near the Paracel Islands without permission. A Chinese PLA statement had gone so far as to say it was "expelled" from the disputed waters, later vehemently denied by the US 7th Fleet: The PLA’s statement about this mission is false. USS Curtis Wilbur was not "expelled" from any nation’s territory...
"China said on Thursday a U.S. warship had illegally entered its territorial waters in the South China Sea, the latest salvo in the two nations’ dispute over Beijing’s territorial claims in the busy waterway," Reuters reports of the military statement.
Chinese military spokesman Colonel Tian Junli denounced the "violation" of Chinese waters as follows:
"This is unprofessional and irresponsible, and fully demonstrates that the US is an out-and-out 'South China Sea security risk creator'," he said.
Of course, the Paracels are among multiple disputed island chains in the South China Sea. The United States doesn't recognize China's claim over it, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. It's one of the island-chains which China has built military fortifications on.
The US Navy retorted that Curtis Wilbur had merely "asserted navigational rights and freedoms" and thus argued it was lawful:
A United States Navy warship sailed near disputed Beijing-controlled islands in the South China Sea on Thursday -- just hours after US President Joe Biden said the US must protect open access to the waterway.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur performed what the US Navy calls a "freedom of navigation" operation near the Paracel Islands, asserting "navigational rights and freedoms... consistent with international law," Lt. j.g. Nicholas Lingo, spokesperson for the US 7th Fleet, said in a statement.
The back-and-forth comes just on the heels of China's Wednesday statement blasting the US for "sending wrong signals to the 'Taiwan independence' forces, deliberately disrupting and sabotaging the regional situation and endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait" - after the US conducted its fifth military sail through of the Taiwan Strait this year.