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US Navy ship sails through Chinese-claimed waters in South China Sea

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Washington (AFP) – A US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed through waters close to the Paracel islands in the South China Sea difficult China’s declare to the world, the Navy mentioned Wednesday.

The USS Barry undertook the so-called “freedom of navigation operation” on Tuesday, per week after Beijing upped its claims to the area by designating an official administrative district for the islands.

The US sought to say the “rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law,” the Navy mentioned in an announcement.

“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose an unprecedented threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight and the right of innocent passage of all ships,” it mentioned.

The transfer got here amid an increase in US-China tensions over the novel coronavirus epidemic, in which Washington has accused Beijing of hiding and downplaying the preliminary outbreak in December and January in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan.

The United States rejects China’s territorial declare to a lot of the South China Sea, together with the Paracels, additionally claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

The area is believed to have priceless oil and fuel deposits.

In an announcement on the People’s Liberation Army web site, the Chinese army mentioned it had mobilized sea and air belongings to trace and warn the US vessel away from “Chinese territorial waters.”

The PLA accused the United States of “provocative acts” that “seriously violated international law and China’s sovereignty and security interests.”

The US motion was “also incompatible with the current joint efforts of international community to fight against the COVID-19,” it mentioned.

Last week China sought to additional advance its territorial claims when it introduced that the Paracel and close by Spratly islands, the Macclesfield Bank and their surrounding waters could be administered below two new districts of Sansha metropolis, which China created on close by Woody Island in 2012.

It additionally introduced official Chinese names for 80 islands and different geographical options in the South China Sea, together with reefs, seamounts, shoals and ridges, 55 of them submerged in water.

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