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3 Jul, 2017 11:28

US damages ‘peace & stability’ with S. China Sea warship maneuvers – Beijing

US damages ‘peace & stability’ with S. China Sea warship maneuvers – Beijing

Washington is damaging peace and stability in the South China Sea and is undermining China-US relations, Beijing said. The comments come a day after the ‘USS Stethem,’ a guided-missile destroyer, sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the region.

The US once again sent warships into the territorial waters of China, seriously damaging the strategic mutual trust between the two sides, Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian said in a statement on Monday, as cited by Chinese media. 

According to Wu, Washington’s actions undermine the development of Chinese-US military relations, sour the political atmosphere and damage regional peace and stability. 

The Chinese army will strengthen its defense capabilities, increase the intensity of air and sea patrols, and vigorously defend the sovereignty and security of the country, he added.

Also on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned US leader Donald Trump that “negative factors” are jeopardizing relations between the two nations.

“Bilateral relations have been affected by some negative factors. China has expressed its position to the US," CCTV state broadcaster reported Xi as saying.  

On Sunday, China sent military vessels and warplanes to “warn off” the ‘USS Stethem,’ which had sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands (known as Xisha in Chinese) in the South China Sea. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, such US behavior “violated Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China's sovereignty, and disrupted the peace, security and order of the relevant waters.” 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang called the US warplane’s maneuvers a “serious political and military provocation.”

Washington is "deliberately stirring up troubles in the South China Sea, as well as running in the opposite direction from countries in the region who aspire for stability, cooperation and development,” he said.

US Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight told Fox News that the fleet was conducting “routine and regular FONOPs, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” without specifically mentioning the incident.

This is not the first time US warships have sailed close to disputed islands in the South China Sea. In May, the ‘Stethem,’ came within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands – another disputed archipelago in the southern part of the South China Sea. 

READ MORE: USS Stethem conducting operations in S. China Sea – Navy

According to the US Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class warship was conducting “routine operations” in the South China Sea. Stationed in Yokosuka city, Japan, the ‘Stethem’ has operated extensively in the Western Pacific.

The Paracel Islands are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while the Spratlys are additionally contested by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. 

Washington has repeatedly slammed Beijing’s claims to nearly all of the resource-rich South China Sea and its construction of military facilities on islets there. However, Beijing said that it will resolve the dispute with its neighbors, rejecting a 2016 Hague tribunal decision which ruled in favor of the Philippines.