Beijing. The US Navy on Tuesday rejected Chinese protests over a ‘freedom of navigation’ campaign it held near an island held by China in the South China Sea. In an unusual move, the Navy’s Seventh Fleet issued a rebuttal to China’s objections to Tuesday’s mission. It called China’s objections “the latest in a long series of (Chinese) actions to misrepresent legitimate US maritime operations.” China claims almost the entire region as its own.
The US Navy said China’s extensive maritime claims pose a serious threat to freedom of navigation and over-flight, free trade and unimpeded commerce in that region, as well as the economic opportunities of littoral countries in the South China Sea. The Navy said that as long as some countries continue to assert rights that exceed their rights under international law, the United States will continue to defend maritime rights and freedoms guaranteed to all.
China called the US action illegal and said it had mobilized its air force and navy to issue warnings and disperse the ships. “The actions of the US military seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security…,” Colonel Tian Junli, spokesman for China’s Southern Theater Command, was quoted as saying. China has indisputable sovereignty over the waters surrounding them.”