China claims it chased off a US Navy ship from contested waters in the South China Sea
Chinese state-run media and allied affiliates are claiming that their carrier group chased a US warship out of their territory in the South China Sea’s Paracel Island chain.
While the incident makes for interesting chatter and propaganda, there’s only one problem- the Chinese don’t actually have rights to the area, and the destroyer in question never once changed course.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry was performing a freedom of navigation operation in international waters when it came across the Chinese Liaoning Carrier Strike Group, which has China’s only active carrier as its flagship.
The Barry spent a considerable amount of time in the area, challenging claims by the Chinese Communist Party that the area within the “Nine Dot Line” belongs to China.
“On April 28, the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law,” Lt. j.g. Rachel McMarr, a Pacific Fleet spokesperson, wrote to Just The News in an email. “This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and also by challenging China’s claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands.”
While China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim to own the area, China has been the most aggressive in attempting to enforce the matter, despite having no real standing when it comes to international waters or international maritime law.
“By engaging in innocent passage without giving prior notification to or asking permission from any of the claimants, the United States challenged the unlawful restrictions imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam,” McMarr also wrote. “The United States demonstrated that innocent passage may not be subject to such restrictions.”
This angered China, who quickly put their state-run media to work- and even claimed that the destroyer was “chased out” by the Liaoning.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Tuesday expelled a US warship that trespassed into Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea as the US’ move could have easily caused an accident, a Chinese military spokesperson said on Tuesday, who also urged the US side to focus on COVID-19 prevention and control at home rather than destabilizing regional security and peace,” the CCP-run Global Times wrote.
Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesperson of the PLA Southern Theater Command, claimed that ships and aircraft drove the Barry away, but provided no media as evidence.
Throughout the article, the CCP-run Global Times continued to stress the tired PLA narrative of being a force of peace.
“Chinese troops will resolutely fulfill their duty, safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Li is reported to have said.
Meanwhile, the US Navy claims that the Barry’s operation proceeded as planned without encountering any wanton or unprofessional behavior from Chinese military aircraft or warships.
The Barry traversed the Taiwan Strait twice this month as part of the presence operations. The Liaoning CSG transited the strait a day after the Barry’s April 22 operation.
The USS Barry is based out of Japan, and has been operating alone in the area.
According to USNI, the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) off the coast of Malaysia to monitor sea lanes during an ongoing dispute (concerning mineral exploration) between Malaysia and China.
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