A data photo of the US destroyer Milius (USS Milius, DDG-69). (US Pacific Fleet Flickr)
[The Epoch Times, March 24, 2023](Comprehensive report by Epoch Times reporter Li Yan) The U.S. Seventh Fleet stated on Friday (March 24) that the destroyer USS Milius sailed past Xisha again that day. Islands to challenge the CCP’s hegemony here. A day earlier, China said the warship was “expelled” when it sailed into the same waters in the South China Sea.
“The USS Milius’ assertion of the right and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands is consistent with international law,” said Seventh Fleet spokesman Luka Bakic in a statement.
Bakich said the warship conducted what the U.S. Navy calls a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP).
The U.S. statement also said that the USS Milius challenged the Chinese Communist Party’s claim of a “straight baseline encircling the Paracel Islands.” Beijing claims sovereignty over the waters between the islands, even though they lie beyond the 12-mile limit of the internationally recognized territorial sea coastline.
China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over almost all of the 1.3 million-square-mile South China Sea and most of its islands, which the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim in whole or in part. On July 12, 2016, the Hague Court ruled that the Chinese Communist Party’s claim of sovereignty over a large area of the South China Sea has no legal basis.
But Beijing has rejected the U.N. ruling and has established military bases on disputed islands in the Spratlys, as it has done in the Paracels.
On Friday, China hopped again on the presence of U.S. warships near islands it claims.
Tan Kefei, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, said in a statement that the guided-missile destroyer Milius broke into the territorial waters of Xisha again without its approval, “violating” China‘s sovereignty and undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea.
On Thursday, Beijing said the USS Milius had been driven out of the Paracel Islands by Chinese forces, a claim the U.S. Seventh Fleet called “false.”
“The ‘Milius’ is performing routine operations in the South China Sea and has not been expelled.” Bakich said in response to inquiries from the Associated Press, “The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever the International Law allows.” .”
Responsible editor: Lin Yan#