China warns USA against plan to send planes, ships to West Philippine Sea

China has warned the USA against the latter’s plan to send surveillance aircrafts and military ships to the West Philippine Sea in an attempt to counter the growing Chinese influence in the region and ensure the freedom of navigation. In a regular press briefing on May 13, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying expressed “deep concerns” against such plan adding that Beijing will seek Washington’s clarification on the matter. The Chinese official said that while China advocates the freedom of navigation, this freedom does not mean any foreign military vessels can violate and enter a country’s territorial waters and airspace at will. The Pentagon has earlier announced that US is seriously considering dispatching ships and aircrafts within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly’s where China has been undergoing major reclamation and construction works.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter reportedly made the request amid the “growing momentum” within the White House and the Pentagon urging that concrete actions must now be taken in an effort to send signal to China, that its reckless aggression in the disputed waters “has gone too far” and has to be stopped. “We are considering how to demonstrate freedom of navigation in an area that is critical to world trade,” an unnamed US official told Reuters. This was echoed by Defense Assistant Secretary David Shear asserting that US had the right of passage in the areas claimed by China. “We are actively assessing the military implications of land reclamation and are committed to taking effective and appropriate action,” Shear told a Senate hearing on Tuesday. However, China has once again made the stock claim of “absolute sovereignty” over nearly all of South China Sea and the group of islands lying there, and cautioned the US, in the strongest term possible, against such move. “China will stay firm in safeguarding territorial sovereignty,” Hua Chunying reiterated. “We urge parties concerned to be discreet in words and actions, avoid taking any risky and provocative actions and safeguard regional peace and stability.” The topic of the South China Sea flashpoints will most likely dominate the talks during US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to China this weekend. The US official is reportedly on a mission to show China the negative consequences of their behavior and how it will potentially strain its relationship with Asian neigbors, and with the United States, as well.
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