China claims to have expelled a U.S. destroyer from its territorial waters in the South China Sea

The Chinese Army has claimed Wednesday to have expelled a U.S. destroyer from its territorial waters around the Paracelsus Islands in the South China Sea, before denouncing a “serious violation” of its “sovereignty and security”.

Chinese Army Southern Theater Command spokesman Tian Junli stressed in a statement that the ‘USS Benford’ “illegally entered the territorial waters of the Paracels Islands without the approval of the Chinese government.”

Thus, he has detailed that the Navy “organized naval and air forces to monitor (its movements) and warn it to leave the area” and has pointed out that these acts by the U.S. destroyer “seriously undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea and seriously violate international law.”

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“The facts once again prove that the United States is a generator of security risks in the South China Sea and a factor in disrupting regional peace and security,” Tian has stressed, according to a statement posted on the Chinese military’s website.

Finally, he has stressed that “troops in theater are always on high alert and resolutely safeguard sovereignty, national security, peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

The Chinese military’s denunciation has come after the United States announced a new strategy to prioritize foreign relations with Pacific states in a quest to counter China’s influence in the region.

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For years China has had a territorial dispute with Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines over several islands located in the South China Sea. Significant hydrocarbon reserves were discovered on the continental shelf of these islands, especially in the Xisha Islands (the Paracelsus Islands), Nansha (the Spratly Islands) and Huangyan (the Scarborough Reef).

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