China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the trespassing of a US missile destroyer in China’s territorial waters violated Chinese and international law, severely harmed Chinese sovereignty and security and seriously endangered the lives of personnel on the front line.
Both China’s Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry said the US provocations would only prompt Beijing to take measures to enhance its defense capability buildup.
Under the pretext of “navigation freedom”, the USS John S. McCain destroyer sailed into waters close to a reef of China’s Nansha Islands on Thursday without China’s approval, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website late Thursday local time.
The reef was identified as Meiji Reef by Chinese media.
China sent warships to identify the destroyer and warn off it, according to the statement.
“China is very displeased with this and will bring up the issue with the US side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in the statement. “China has indisputable sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters.”
This is not the first time the United States has sailed near Chinese islands this year. US warships made unauthorized entry into China’s territorial waters in May and July, according to earlier media reports.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said that through joint efforts by China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the current situation in the South China Sea has stabilized and maintains a sound development momentum.
On Sunday, foreign ministers of China and ASEAN approved a framework for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in Manila.
“However, some parties from outside continue to meddle in the region under the guise of ‘free navigation’,” Geng said. “It is clear who is not willing to see stability in the South China Sea and who is the major factor pushing for militarization in the South China Sea.”
“China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests,” Geng said, adding that the US provocation will force China to take further measures to strengthen homeland defense capacity.
Also on Thursday, China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the US provocations had seriously damaged mutual strategic trust and seriously undermined the development of Sino-US military relations.
He urged the US side to stop such provocative actions under the guise of “navigation freedom”.
“These actions will only force the Chinese military to increase various defense capability buildups to resolutely protect national sovereignty and security,” Wu said.