According to The Associated Press, Chinese officials said on Monday that their military drove a US warship out of a disputed area of the South China Sea.
According to a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesperson on social media, the PLA dispatched ships and planes to the area after the USS Benfold entered an area claimed by Beijing around the Paracel Islands.
According to the Associated Press, a PLA spokesperson told the news outlet that Chinese forces warned the US ship and drove it away from the Paracel Islands, which the PLA claimed are part of China’s “inherent territory.”
“The actions of the U.S. military have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security,” the PLA said.
The Chinese comments echoed Beijing’s usual reaction to US warships conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea almost every month, Reuters reported.
In a statement, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet called China’s claims false, stating that the USS Benfold carried out its mission “in accordance with international law and then continued on to conduct normal operations in international waters.”
“U.S. forces operate in the South China Sea on a daily basis, as they have for more than a century. They routinely operate in close coordination with like-minded allies and partners who share our commitment to uphold a free and open international order that promotes security and prosperity,” the 7th Fleet said in its statement.
“All of our operations are designed to be conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows — regardless of the location of excessive maritime claims and regardless of current events.”