Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

China raises ‘combat readiness’ as U.S. warships enter disputed waters

China raises ‘combat readiness’ as U.S. warships enter disputed waters

A statement on the Defence Ministry's website said the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam entered waters China claims in the Paracel island group "without the permission of the Chinese government".

Both vessels reportedly came within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of the Paracels, carrying out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands, Reuters quoted an unidentified us official as saying.

A statement released by the Chinese Ministry of Defense condemned the operation, saying that it had "contravened Chinese and relevant global law, seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty [and] harmed strategic mutual trust between the two militaries".

The Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam a guided-missile cruiser came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands

It also said it had deployed ships and aircraft to warn the U.S. warships to leave, saying they had entered the country's territorial waters without permission.

China's foreign minister said China had a right to take whatever measures it deemed fit on its island holdings, and the defence ministry criticized the US move as "unconstructive", saying it would do nothing to change China's resolve to "play a role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region".

Chiefs from the Pentagon have continuously accused China of building up it military power in the South China Sea to gain control of oil and gas rich region.

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The Paracel islands are part of a territorial dispute that China has with neighbouring countries.

The statement added that sucgh routine and regular operations "are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements".

Beijing says aircraft carriers are needed to protect its coastline and trade routes, although they are also seen as backing up Beijing's claims to self-governing Taiwan and the South China Sea. China has refused to acknowledge the arbitral ruling and continues to claim the South China Sea in its entirety. Earlier in the month, the United States also formally protested the deployment of missiles and radar equipment on three artificial islands China has built in the Spratly Islands.

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'We have disinvited the PLA Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise. Recent Chinese actions on areas within the country's EEZ include the reported presence of two Chinese military planes on Panganiban or Mischief Reef, and China's unveiling of a monument to mark its construction work in Kagitingan or Fiery Cross Reef.

Trump's cancellation of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has put further strain on U.S.

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