Tensions Rising, Chinese Military Expels Warship USS Chancellorsville Near Spratly Islands

Tensions Rising, Chinese Military Expels Warship USS Chancellorsville Near Spratly Islands
Chinese Military Expels Warship USS Chancellorsville Near Spratly Islands

BEIJING - China's military said on Tuesday (29/11/2022) that it repelled a United States (US) missile cruiser that "illegally intruded" into waters near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. "The US military's actions seriously violate China's sovereignty and security," said Tian Junli, spokesman for the Southern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

Tian said the US cruiser's intrusion showed the United States was a "security risk maker" in the South China Sea. "That is another strong evidence of hegemony in the navigation and militarization of the South China Sea," said Tian.

The ship in question, the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville, recently sailed through the Taiwan Strait. In a statement, the US Navy deemed China's statement "false", calling it, "The latest in a series of actions by the People's Republic of China (PRC) to misrepresent legitimate US maritime operations."

The USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), an upgraded guided missile cruiser, has reportedly transited the waters of the Spratley Islands, a group of artificial and natural reefs fortified by the People’s Liberation Army of China.

"USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) conducted this FONOP in accordance with international law and then proceeded to conduct normal operations in waters where freedom of the high seas applies," the statement stressed, referring to "freedom of navigation operations" by its military acronym.

The US Navy stressed, "The United States defends every nation's right to fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits." "The Chinese military said its troops will remain vigilant," the Southern Theater Command said on its WeChat social media account.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea and has been one of the many flashpoints in the difficult relationship between China and the United States. The United States rejects what it calls China's unlawful territorial claims in the resource-rich waters.

US warships have passed through the South China Sea with increasing frequency in recent years, in a show of force against Chinese claims.

The United States Navy has not commented on the incident yet. This is the second high-profile transit for the Chancellorsville since August 28th, 2022, when the ship sailed through the Taiwan Strait following former- U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island nation on August 2nd. The last U.S. ship to sail near the disputed Spratleys was USS Benfold (DDG 65) in July of 2022.

The People’s Republic of China lays illegal claim to both the Spratley and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, where it has fortified several dozen radar sites, surface-to-air missile sites, and airfields to wrest control of the region from other countries that lay similar claims such as the Philippines and Vietnam.

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