China has accused the United States of entering its territorial waters. Military specialist Andrei Golovatyuk has explained the reason behind this conflict.
The Chinese Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Wu Qian, has stated that US military vessels entered China’s territorial waters without authorization. According to Qian, the naval destroyer USS Higgins and the USS Antietam missile cruiser passed a distance of 12 nautical miles from the Paracel Islands.
The Chinese Ministry of Defense described the maneuvers of US ships as a “provocation” contrary to Chinese law and international standards. In addition, the ministry has promised to strengthen security measures at sea and air and protect the country’s sovereignty.
The Pentagon has also commented on the incident. According to US spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, US ships are operating in the South China Sea under laws on free shipping.
The Paracel Islands are an archipelago in the South China Sea located 230 kilometers from China and 200 kilometers from Vietnam. Since 1974, China has established its control over the territory; however, Vietnam and Taiwan continue to claim their rights over the islands.
Colonel and military expert Andrei Golovatyuk said that the reasons for this escalation of tensions around disputed territory are the provocative actions of the United States.
“Since 1974, China has begun to establish control over the [Paracel] islands, but they remain a disputed territory. […] However, the United States does not recognize Chinese jurisdiction and has violated China’s territorial integrity according to Chinese law, ” he said.
According to the analyst, this is an explosive situation.
“It is a challenge for China and an act of insolence and disrespect towards Beijing. Now they will start mutual accusations. I would not like this incident to become a large-scale confrontation since the region is so militarized … a spark is enough to trigger a major fire, and I hope the Chinese will show wisdom and not succumb to the Americans’ provocations,” Golovatyuksaid.
Earlier, the Pentagon withdrew its invitation to Chinese military personnel to participate in the Pacific maneuvers. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, after meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, called this act “non-constructive.”