SHANGHAI – China announced on Saturday it would take steps to safeguard its sovereignty after a United States warship entered the waters surrounding Huangyan Island in the South China Sea without Beijing’s permission.
The USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese island late Wednesday without Chinese government permission, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang, said at a press briefing Saturday.
“We strongly urge the US to rectify its mistake immediately and cease this kind of provocation so as not to harm Sino-US relations and regional peace and stability,” Lu said.
China claims undisputed sovereignty over Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters, although they are also claimed by the Philippines and Taiwan.
“China respects and safeguards the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea for all countries in accordance with international law, but resolutely opposes any country’s move to impair China’s sovereignty and security interests in the name of freedom of navigation and overflight,” Lu said.
Lu said the ship had posed a “serious threat” to Chinese ships and personnel working in the area, adding that the US had broken basic international protocols.