China slams US naval ships sailing through South China Sea; denounces Pentagon report on Chinese military

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Published: May 6, 2019 6:50:31 PM

The latest US challenge to Beijing's territorial claims in the region comes amid trade tensions as President Donald Trump said Sunday he would raise tariffs on USD 200 billion in Chinese goods on Friday because talks were moving "too slowly".

The US Navy regularly conducts “freedom of navigation operations” to challenge Beijing’s claims in the sea. (Representational Photo)

China on Monday protested over two US warships sailing near islands claimed by it in the disputed South China Sea, saying it violates its sovereignty and also denounced a Pentagon report on Chinese military’s modernisation as an attempt to spread the “China threat theory”. The US guided-missile destroyers ‘Preble’ and ‘Chung Hoon’ travelled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands, which Beijing calls Nansha.

The latest US challenge to Beijing’s territorial claims in the region comes amid trade tensions as President Donald Trump said Sunday he would raise tariffs on USD 200 billion in Chinese goods on Friday because talks were moving “too slowly”.

“On May 6 two US warships without the permission of the Chinese government have entered the adjacent waters of the Johnson reef in China’s Nansha island in the South China Sea, (SCS),” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing here on Monday. He said the Chinese navy identified the US vessels and asked them to leave as per Chinese law.

“The relevant move the US warships infringed upon China’s sovereignty and undermined peace and security in the relevant waters. We deplore that and firmly oppose that,” he said and asked Washington to stop such “provocations”.

China claims almost all of the strategic SCS and oppose naval operations in the disputed waters. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims in the region.

The US Navy regularly conducts “freedom of navigation operations” to challenge Beijing’s claims in the sea. Geng also denounced the latest Pentagon report which warned that China’s military modernisation has the potential to erode core US advantages in technology and operations.

The Pentagon report also warned that China plans to establish many naval bases around the world, including at Gwadar in Pakistan.

Geng said the Pentagon report has made “many untrue remarks on Chinese policy and also deliberately distorted China’ strategic intention and spread the China threat theory.”

“We firmly oppose that. Facts have proven that China is committed to peaceful development and following a national defence policy that its defensive in nature,” he said. “We believe our two militaries should strengthen cooperation and dialogue to avoid miscalculation leading to conflict,” he said. “The US should abandon zero sum game and cold war mentality, look China’s development in an objective manner and stop issuing such irresponsible report year after year and do more to improve our military to military ties,” Geng said.

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