BEIJING – The Chinese military said on Tuesday that its relations with the United States military have been severely affected after a US navy warship entered the disputed waters of South China Sea.
“The USS Decatur guided missile destroyer arbitrarily entered waters off China’s islands and reefs in the South China Sea on Sept. 30,” defense ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said in a statement.
Beijing, which claims sovereignty over South China Sea, said that a Chinese navy vessel identified the American warship in accordance with law and warned the vessel to leave the waters.
“The US side has sent warships into waters near China’s islands and reefs in South China Sea time and again, which has posed a grave threat to China’s sovereignty and security, severely damaged relations between the two militaries, and significantly undermined regional peace and stability,” the statement added.
Wu reiterated that China respects the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law but “resolutely opposes any illegal provocation in the name of ‘freedom of navigation.’”
The spokesperson said the Chinese military would take necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security.
“China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters. Currently, with the joint efforts by China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is developing toward a stable and positive direction,” the statement said, referring to China’s ongoing territorial disputes with neighboring countries over sovereignty of some islands in the South China Sea.
The statement comes a day after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis had canceled an upcoming visit to China to discuss security matters due to increasing tensions between the two countries, Pentagon sources told EFE.