US Navy conducts navigation operation in South China Sea
On Feb. 5 in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) claimed navigational rights and freedoms, as announced by the US Navy under international law.
This freedom of navigation activity, by challenging the unconstitutional restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam and also by challenging China's claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands, upheld the privileges, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law.
The following statement was made on Feb 5 by the National Defense Ministry of the People's Republic of China.
“On February 5, the US guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain trespassed into the waters adjacent to China’s Xisha Islands without Chinese Government’s permission, and the naval and aerial forces of the Chinese PLA Southern Theater Command conducted whole-process tracking and monitoring on the US destroyer and warned it off,” stated Air Force Senior Colonel Tian Junli.
The spokesperson pointed out that the US move is a replay of its old trick of mixed manipulation of the cross-Strait situation, which has seriously violated China's sovereignty and security, seriously undermined regional peace and stability, and intentionally disturbed the South China Sea's good atmosphere of peace, friendship and cooperation.
Freedom of navigation is protected by the United States as a principle. The United States will continue to defend certain rights and freedoms as long as some nations continue to make maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and that purport to illegally limit the rights and freedoms granted to all States.
Under international law, the ships of all nations, including their warships, are entitled to innocent passage through the territorial sea, as expressed in the Law of the Sea Convention. International law does not authorize the unilateral imposition of any permission or advance notification obligation for innocent passage.
The United States challenged these unlawful restrictions imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam by engaging in innocent passage without giving prior notice to or requesting permission from any of the claimants. The United States has proven that such restrictions might not be immune to innocent passage.
US forces operate on a regular basis in the South China Sea, as they have for more than a century. They frequently work closely with like-minded allies and partners who share our commitment to preserving a free and open international order that promotes stability and prosperity.
Maritime Business World