China on Saturday vowed to take “necessary measures” to safeguard its sovereignty after a US warship entered the waters surrounding Huangyan Island in the South China Sea without Beijing’s permission. The USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese island late on Wednesday without Chinese government permission, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang at a press briefing. “We strongly urge the US to rectify its mistake immediately and cease this kind of provocation so as not to harm Sino-US relations and regional peace and stability,” Lu said. He said the Chinese Navy conducted an identification and warning process to drive the US warship away, Xinhua news agency reported. The US warship impaired China’s sovereignty and security interests and caused a serious threat to Chinese vessels and personnel working in the area, Lu said, adding that the US side’s behaviour broke basic protocols of international relations.
China claims undisputed sovereignty over Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters, although they are also claimed by the Philippines and Taiwan. “China respects and safeguards the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea for all countries in accordance with international law, but resolutely opposes any country’s move to impair China’s sovereignty and security interests in the name of freedom of navigation and overflight,” the spokesperson said.