The superpower clash between China and the U.S. continued on Friday as a U.S. Navy ship sailed near the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands in the heavily disrupted South China Sea, only to get an stern rebuke (and what some would call, an appropriate response) from Beijing.
The USS John S. McCain, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, entered the waters near Paracel islands Friday without China’s permission on a “freedom of navigation operation,” the first known operation in the heavily disputed area under the new Biden administration.
Shortly after, CGTN reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “expelled” the destroyer after it “trespassed” into China’s territorial waters. Tian Junli, a spokesperson for the PLA Southern Theater Command, said the move “seriously infringed China’s sovereignty and security.” He said PLA troops in the region are on “high alert at all times to protect the peace and stability of the region.”
The heavily disputed waterway is one of the flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, including a trade war, technology war, U.S. sanctions, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
U.S. sailings of warships near the militarized islands in the South China Sea have angered Beijing in the past.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the destroyer USS John S. McCain “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law”.