BEIJING (Sputnik) – The US guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold on Wednesday entered Chinese waters off the disputed Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, in the South China Sea without Beijing’s permission, thus once again undermining peace and stability in the region, a spokesman for Chinese military said.
“On July 13, the US guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold trespassed into China’s territorial waters off Xisha Islands without Chinese government’s permission,” Chinese Air Force Senior Colonel Tian Junli, spokesman for the Southern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army, said in a statement.
The actions of the US military have seriously violated China’s national sovereignty and security, undermined peace and stability in the South China Sea and violated international law, the spokesman added.
According to Tian, the US move has once again proven Washington’s intention to militarize the South China Sea.
“Facts have fully proven that the US is nothing but a ‘trouble-maker’ and the ‘biggest destroyer’ of the peace and stability in the South China Sea,” the statement read.
Beijing has long been disputing the ownership of several hydrocarbon-rich islands in the South China Sea with several Asia-Pacific countries. The territories include the Xisha archipelago, the Spratly Islands, and the island of Huangyan, also known as the Scarborough Shoal. Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines have been claiming ownership of the territories.
The situation in the sea region is often complicated by the passage of US warships, which, according to Beijing, violate international law and undermine China’s sovereignty and security. Washington has said that the US forces will continue to operate wherever international law allowed, including the South China Sea.