The China Post
By: Gerry Shih ,AP
BEIJING — Mainland China strongly condemned the United States after a U.S. warship
deliberately sailed near one of the Beijing-controlled islands in the hotly contested South China Sea to exercise freedom of navigation and challenge mainland China’s vast sea claims.
The missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Triton Island in the Paracel chain “to challenge excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands,” without notifying the three claimants beforehand, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Mark Wright said Saturday in Washington, D.C.
Taiwan, the mainland and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the Paracels and require prior notice from ships transiting what they consider their territorial waters. The latest operation was particularly aimed at mainland China, which has raised tensions with the U.S. and its Southeast Asian neighbors by embarking on massive construction of man-made islands and airstrips in contested waters.
Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said that Vietnam respects “innocent passage” of ships through territorial waters in line with international law. State media quoted Binh as reiterating Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracels and Spratlys and calling on nations to actively and practically contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea. [FULL STORY]