Beijing warned Washington on Wednesday not to challenge its sovereignty in the South China Sea amid reports that the U.S. Navy was gearing up to sail more warships near China’s man-made islands in the contested waters.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, said Beijing has backed freedom of navigation in the waters, but opposes any U.S. actions that challenge its sovereignty and security.
U.S. naval leaders were hoping to ratchet up so-called freedom of navigation operations in the strategic waterway, citing unnamed officials. The report said that the operations could be carried out by warships with the San Diego-based Carl Vinson carrier strike group, which is currently sailing in the Western Pacific.
China’s Defense Ministry announced Monday that a task force of naval battleships had left Sanya, in southern China’s Hainan Province, on Friday for so-called confrontation drills in the South China Sea that included aviation forces of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s South Sea Fleet and garrison troops in the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands.
“At present, through the joint efforts of China and ASEAN nations, the situation in the South China Sea is stabilizing and developing in a positive direction,” Geng said, according to the ministry’s website. “We hope that foreign countries will respect the efforts of China and ASEAN to jointly maintain and consolidate the current positive momentum.”