Home » Foreign Forces » China Upset Over ‘Unprofessional’ U.S. South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation


China Upset Over ‘Unprofessional’ U.S. South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation

USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) in 2012. US Navy Photo

USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) in 2012. US Navy Photo

Chinese officials issued several condemnations of the latest U.S. freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea in which an American guided missile destroyer came within 12 nautical miles of Chinese administered Triton Island in the Paracel Island chain.

Hours following the pass of USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) Chinese state controlled media published rhetorically charged statements from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense.

The Wilbur FON op was “unprofessional and irresponsible… the U.S. act severely violated Chinese law, sabotaged the peace, security and good order of the waters, and undermined the region’s peace and stability,” National Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said on Saturday.
“For many years, the US side has proposed measures to ensure navigation safety of ships and aircraft of all parties, but it repeatedly sent vessels and planes into China’ s territorial sea and air space regardless of China’s opposition, leading to close encounters of navy and air force troops of the two countries.”

Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement, “the U.S. warship violated Chinese law and entered China’ s territorial sea without authorization. The Chinese side conducted surveillance and vocal warnings to the U.S. warship.”

The Pentagon statement to USNI News on Saturday said the type of transit Wilbur took past Triton Island was an innocent passage – a stipulation in maritime law that allows warships to transit through a nation’s territorial waters “so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal state,” according to Article 19 of the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.

Both Hua and Yang cited China’s 1992 law, which requires a foreign warship – no matter its posture – prior notification before entering its claimed territorial waters. The pair also cited China’s 1996 claim of a straight baseline around the island chain. The Chinese argue that baseline covers the entire Island chain its own maritime boundary like that of Indonesia.

“The U.S. side is fully aware of this, yet it still sent its warship into China’ s territorial sea without authorization,” Yang said in the statement.
“It is a deliberate provocation.”

For its part, the U.S. does neither recognize a Chinese right of prior notification for the innocent passage of a warship through its territorial waters nor the straight baseline China claims over the Paracels.

Also on Saturday Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said Vietnam – which has an overlapping claim to the Paracels – respects the right of innocent passage through its territory.

Last year, China conducted a similar innocent passage through the U.S. Aleutian Islands in September in a manner the U.S. “in a manner consistent with international law,” U.S. Northern Command Officials said at the time in a story first reported by USNI News.

Domestically, the operation drew praise from Senate Armed Services Committee chair Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

“I am encouraged to hear that the U.S. Navy has conducted a freedom of navigation operation near Triton Island in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. This operation challenged excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and other nations under international law,” read a Saturday statement from McCain’s office.
“I continue to hope these operations will become so routine that China and other claimants will come to accept them as normal occurrences and releasing press statements to praise them will no longer be necessary.”

The U.S. freedom of navigation program begun in 1979 with the goal of testing maritime territorial claims the U.S. viewed as excessive and in violation of international law. In October, USS Lassen (DDG-84) conducted a FON op past a Chinese installation on an artificial island on Subi Reef in the Spratly Island chain.

  • cricha43

    F*** china and their bullshit claims….

  • Didn’t the vaunted Army/Navy of the People’s Republic transit off the coast of Alaska a few months ago. Next time we should send a carrier battle group. Or better still to save money a LCS, oh yea. can’t do that the only one in the area is broken down in Singapore. So much for the “great gray fleet” now to be called, Navy’s own name “great green fleet”. Puke to leeward shipmates, puke to leeward. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN ret.

  • johan

    Because the CPC will get what it wants, when it wants it, and everyone else is wrong.

  • OleSalt_1

    Well done USN. Why are the Chinese upset? They bloody well bull-dozed their way in claiming practically the whole of the South China Sea, disregarding International law. Stand firm and not be bullied, as the Chinese is always shifty and will take advantage of the weak.

  • The Dead Rabbits

    Eff ’em. China wants to pass ridiculous laws which flout international laws and norms then expect everyone to observe them. The USN should be doing this quietly every day of the week until the CCP gets tired of their fake indignation.

  • Michael Nunez

    Unprofessional , The CCP is by it’s very Core is the ” Essence ” of Lying , Deceit , Negative Propaganda , from it’s insidious creation in 1949 , through all the Human Suffering up until Today . ” Unprofessional ” is the Base of Today’s China , a simple ” Fact ” .

    • hugh

      No, it was created in 1921.

  • muzzleloader

    [email protected]#% em. Next time send the entire Ronald Reagan battle group.

  • ChopperPilot

    Yes, very unprofessional….so long as one uses the PRC’s version of professional: killing people and conquering by force of arms.

  • DireMouse

    China has an un-elected government; it is illegitimate.

  • Lincoln1932

    I was thinking back when they parked their boats at Scarborough and saying that Philippines is doing too much talking and even asking PH, like a giant gorilla asking a tiny chimpanzee, to shoot them. Now, why they are talking too much, they are of the same weight anyway. The only difference is, China is a 200-lb guy who stays in the kitchen most of the time eating noddles and siomai against the US, who is also 200-lb guy but stays mostly in the military training camp and ready to go to battle anytime. Consider them very lucky, the US is still very professional and humane to accomodate them.

  • Donald Carey

    “Chinese administered” – B.S.! How about illegally occupied? Shame on you, Sam!

  • Banlas

    One day, United States will have its a s s kicked real hard.

    • On Dre

      and not by you or anyone you know. Go burn flags and cry to yourself baby. No one cares about you.

  • Hugh

    When they have no valid arguments, they strongly abuse and condemn others, and “trail their coat tails” (so if you tread on these then they say you are in the wrong) – typical Chinese…….. Even their diplomats lack world standards and expectations.

  • Gary Krysta

    Don’t poke a sleeping Bear.