The dispute over who has sovereignty over the South China Sea between China and the US has flared up again. According to the US, its ship was enforcing its maritime rights nearby.
Since tensions between the two countries were already at an all-time high, China warned the US on Friday that there would be “severe consequences” if a US warship violated Chinese territorial seas.
For the second day in a row, the US Navy destroyer USS Milius circumnavigated the contentious Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, an action that Beijing deemed to be a violation of Chinese sovereignty.
“We sternly demand the US to immediately stop such provocative acts, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of unforeseen incidents. The act of the US military seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, severely breached international laws, and is more ironclad evidence of the US pursuing navigation hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea”
According to the US Navy, the guided-missile warship was claiming freedom and rights of navigation in the disputed area.
The freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unhindered commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for the South China Sea littoral nations, are seriously threatened by unlawful and expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, according to a statement from the US Navy 7th Fleet.
The vital canal is highly prized for its fish stock and mineral riches in addition to being a corridor of transit for about $5 billion (€4.62 billion) annually.
Together with the destiny of Taiwan, the dispute over a number of tiny islands in the South China Sea has been one of the main causes of tension between the two countries.