China Sends Warships, Fighter Jets To Intercept US Destroyer In South China Sea

Just days before Trump's meeting with the Chinese president in Hamburg later this week for the G-20 summit, the Trump administration sent a guided-missile destroyer near Triton Island in the South China Sea, Bloomberg reported, a move "which may cause concern ahead of President Donald Trump’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart."

According to an anonymous official cited by Bloomberg, the U.S. Navy sent the destroyer USS Stethem within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Triton Island on Sunday, passing through the contested waters on the basis of "innocent passage." 

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem

It was the second such operation conducted by the US during Donald Trump’s presidency. On May 24, the US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Dewey, came within 12 miles of the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, another disputed archipelago that lies in the southern part of the South China Sea. At that time, the Chinese Defense Ministry also sent two frigates to “warn off” the US vessel and said that it was “firmly opposed to the US behavior of showing force and boosting regional militarization.”

The news of the US ship deployment to the contested area comes just days after reports suggest China has completed construction of new missile shelters on Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs.

The sea patrol move could signal that the U.S. is displeased with China based on the extent of its efforts to pressure North Korea to curb its missile and nuclear programs. The White House has made several moves in recent weeks, including announcing economic sanctions against Chinese companies with ties to North Korea.

And while in recent weeks China has shown remarkable restraint in not responding, or retaliating, to US escalations today Beijing finally reacted instantly and with "outrage" with People's Daily reporting that China deployed military vessels and warplanes to “warn off” the USS Stethem, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang.

“Under the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation,’ the US side once again sent a military vessel into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China's approval,” the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that such US behavior “has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China's sovereignty, disrupted peace, security and order of the relevant waters and put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands, and thus constitutes a serious political and military provocation."

"The Chinese side is dissatisfied with and opposed to the relevant behavior of the US side,” Lu added.

Escalating matter further, China's foreign ministry also accused the US of "deliberatrely stirring up troubles" in the contested waters and warned Washington to "immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China's sovereignty."

 “Working together, China and ASEAN member states have cooled down and improved the situation in the #SouthChinaSea. The US, who deliberately stirs up troubles in the South China Sea, is running in the opposite direction from countries in the region who aspire for stability, cooperation and development,” Lu added.


"The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China's sovereignty and threaten China's security. The Chinese side will continue to take all necessary means to defend national sovereignty and security," the statement reads.

The head of US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, recently criticized China’s activity in the region. "China is using its military and economic power to erode the rules-based international order," he said in a speech delivered on Wednesday in Brisbane during the joint US-Australian military exercises.

"Fake islands should not be believed by real people," he added, as reported by Fox News.

* * *

The Paracel Islands, of which Triton is a member, are contested by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.  China has already built runways, aircraft hangars, radar sites and hardened surface-to-air missile shelters on its artificially-created islands in the region, according to photos analyzed by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Beijing’s actions have sparked concerns in Washington and the US Navy, which is fiercely opposed to this Chinese initiative, has deployed additional warships in the disputed zone, conducted maneuvers near China’s artificial islands, and flown over them, claiming it has been done in the interest of the “freedom of navigation.” In response, China called Washington’s involvement in the dispute the “greatest” threat to the region.

In early June, China and the US both held exercises involving air and navy forces, in another episode of confrontation over the disputed South China Sea. The US sent two B-1B Lancer supersonic bombers to fly a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, which was conducted in conjunction with the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer the USS Sterett.

A day earlier, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted its own air and navy exercise off Hong Kong. The patrol mission involved three helicopters and two Type 056 corvettes, the Qinzhou and the Huizhou, the Defense Ministry reported.


ebworthen Francis Marx Sun, 07/02/2017 - 18:54 Permalink

Those islands are closer to Vietnam than anything.Maye Nike can buy them?  If China gets them, the U.S. can claim the entire Pacific and tax Chinese ships bringing in Dollar Store and Harbor Tools crap at 40%. Won't make up for our complete loss of productive capacity and career employment of course, but Washington and Wall Street sold out the middle-class long ago.

In reply to by Francis Marx

sushi Yukon Cornholius Sun, 07/02/2017 - 20:48 Permalink

How come no one is raising a stink about Guam. It is a highly militarized island bristling with sub basesm airfields, ammo dumps, bombers, fighters and all the other good stuff. How is it not a threat?If China starts doing doughnuts around Guam watch for the screaming to start. You bad bad China for doing exactly what we do to you!! Bad China. Just so, so bad.   

In reply to by Yukon Cornholius

not dead yet RomanceWritR Mon, 07/03/2017 - 03:47 Permalink

So what. Navies are pretty much obsolete, except for missile subs, if a big one starts. Even if the US military has the numbers on their side all that stuff is scattered around the world. If the SHTF in Europe carriers in the Pacific would be useless as by the time they reached Europe it would all be over. The US was too busy for years showing off their Navy might everywhere but where ships were getting hijacked by dindoos in rubber boats. When called on for their failure they had nothing but excuses. Ships from "inferior" navies such as China and India that were far away from home ended up patrolling the hijack areas but not much a surface ship could do without eyes in the sky. Yet the US justifies a huge navy, and demands more ships, to "keep the sea lanes open." While ships were getting hijacked off Africa the US routinely had carrier task forces, as many as 3 at once, in the Persion Gulf to flip the bird at Iran. There was no chance of any warfare breaking out in the Gulf, unless the US started it, and the US knew it yet ignored the hijacks thinking they could actually intimidate the Iranians. They didn't.

In reply to by RomanceWritR

not dead yet RomanceWritR Mon, 07/03/2017 - 04:10 Permalink

Plenty. The Chinese can fly hundreds of planes from unsinkable land. One of the US big sinkable carriers carries around 60 to 75 planes. Plus fighting from their own land the Chinese supply lines are short bringing huge masses of stuff to bear while resupplying US ships is slow and piecemeal by sinkable supply ships. Where Russia screwed the Germans was they burned or destroyed anything of use to the Germans, especially food and shelter, and they had to truck everything in over ever increasing distances. The German railway gauge was different than the Russians so the use of rail was minimal as the Russian destroyed or evacuated engines and rolling stock as well as destroying track. It was lack of supply as well as the conditions that doomed Hitlers advance and brought eventual defeat. China can also launch thousands of ship killer missiles from unsinkable mother earth. If a big one does start nukes will fly as the one on the losing end goes down swinging. Fighters don't have that great a range so if the carriers stand off to avoid being sunk bombers would be at the mercy of Chinese fighters based on land. Oh but they can be air fueled. Yep until they target the tanker which would be a priority.

In reply to by RomanceWritR

Lordflin man from glad Sun, 07/02/2017 - 22:54 Permalink

Yes, and no... I know they are building the ships, but a naval tradition is not something that happens over night. On the other hand, it is difficult to know how effective any navy will be in a coming war... other than subs of course. More and more it is becoming obvious that the carriers that dominated the oceans in the Second World War are becoming floating coffins. Still, assuming there is such a thing as a classic naval engagement, a freshly minted navy is going to be at a distinct disadvantage.

In reply to by man from glad

Belerophon Sun, 07/02/2017 - 18:50 Permalink

Ever heard of adverse possession?  China is perfecting their claim to the islands by developing them to show that their possession is actual, open, notorious, exclusive, hostile to other claimants, and continuous under a claim of right.The other claimants never did anything wth the islands for centuries, and sat there passively while China moved in and got busy.  China has proven herself to be the true and rightful owner.

scraping_by Sun, 07/02/2017 - 18:52 Permalink

Pure posturing. The US military is dependent on Chinese components in pretty much all its equipment. What wasn't bought up under Bush was finished off under Obama. The US domestic manufacturing base is gone.WW II the USG built up its industrial infrastructure pretty much from scratch. But that took the better part of three years. Not that kind of time available in this conflict scenario.

serotonindumptruck scraping_by Sun, 07/02/2017 - 19:09 Permalink

Perhaps they're all on the same side, and the conundrum seems to be:A) How to effectively reduce global populations to sustainable levels, andB) Whose population (tax slaves) will suffer the greatest losses.According to the Georgia Guidestones, 500 million is the maximum carrying capacity for the oligarchs to control and paracitize.We still live under a feudal world order.

In reply to by scraping_by

SybilDefense scraping_by Mon, 07/03/2017 - 08:53 Permalink

Without any us manufacturing infrastructure, no reason for enemy bombers to fly over US land. And with all the Chinese grocery stores and sum dum buffets strategically placed throughout the us, China will never bomb us!Another reason we needs mo Muslims and sanctuary cities.  Just so we are safe from all foriegn attack.Gosh forbid a white Christian country gets mad at us.  Barely any of those left here in the US.  It will be bombs away without fear of hitting white European decendents. They've all been globalized in the liberal melting pot in the name of all that's wonderfulGenius I tells ya, pure genius!

In reply to by scraping_by