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Beijing urges Washington to end ‘provocative actions’ in South China Sea after US warships conduct ‘freedom of navigation’ mission

Beijing urges Washington to end ‘provocative actions’ in South China Sea after US warships conduct ‘freedom of navigation’ mission
China slammed “provocative” American operations in the South China Sea after US Navy warships passed by several strategic islands claimed by Beijing. Washington, as usual, says it is only protecting the “freedom of navigation.”

The USS ‘Gabrielle Giffords,’ a littoral combat ship, buzzed by Mischief Reef near the Spratly Islands at a distance of 12 nautical miles earlier this week, Navy officials confirmed to Reuters. The destroyer USS ‘Wayne E. Meyer,’ meanwhile, passed near the Paracel Islands on Thursday.

Beijing, which claims rightful control over most of the South China Sea and disputes rival claims from neighboring states such as Malaysia and Taiwan, responded angrily to the move in a statement on Friday.

“We urge [the United States] to stop these provocative actions to avoid any unforeseeable accidents,” a Chinese military spokesman said.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and its surrounding area.

The United States has accused China of attempting to militarize the energy-rich waters, pointing to a number of military outposts it has established in the area, and has repeatedly argued its operations in the region are only meant to secure the “freedom of navigation.”

Also on rt.com US defense chief Esper urges ‘very public posture’ on Beijing’s South China Sea claims

At a closed-door meeting earlier this week on the sidelines of talks in Thailand, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told his American counterpart that Washington must “stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea,” according to Chinese spokesman Wu Qian.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, for his part, has previously accused Beijing of “resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives” in the South China Sea.

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