BEIJING Expels US Warship From Disputed South China Sea as tensions rise in the area
It is reported that Beijing expelled the USS John S. McCain warship from the South China Sea on Friday (February 5), as it sailed close to the disputed Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China, who call them the Xisha Islands, but Vietnam and Taiwan both lay claim to the territory as well.
The Global Times, China’s state media outlet, reported that the US ship was tracked and expelled by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces, saying, “The PLA Southern Theatre Command tracked, monitored, and warned off the USS John S. McCain when it trespassed upon Chinese territorial waters near Xisha Islands on Friday”.
A statement from the US fleet said, “USS John S. McCain asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law”.
It continued, “This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging the unlawful restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam and also by challenging China’s claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands”.
US officials say that under the international Law of the Sea Convention, China is not allowed to ask the three countries to ask for advance notice before a military vessel makes ‘innocent passage’ through the waters.
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