Home » Foreign Forces » China » China Chides U.S. Over Latest South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation

China Chides U.S. Over Latest South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation

USS Chafee (DDG 90) leaves Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 23, 2017. US Navy Photo

THE PENTAGON — Beijing officials issued a public complaint on Wednesday over a U.S. freedom of navigation operation in which a U.S. destroyer challenged excessive Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The transit of USS Chafee (DDG-90) violated Chinese territorial sovereignty by entering a claimed territorial sea without prior notification, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a press briefing.

“On Oct. 10, the missile destroyer USS Chafee entered China’s territorial sea off the Xisha [Paracel] Islands to carry out a so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ operation without China’s approval. The Chinese side immediately sent naval ships and fighter planes to identify and verify the U.S. warship according to law and warn and expel it,” she said.
“The relevant behavior of the U.S. warship has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, severely undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests, put in jeopardy the life safety of the frontline personnel from both sides. China is firmly opposed to this and has lodged serious representation with the U.S. side.”

Two U.S. officials confirmed the basic details of the operation and said the interaction between the People’s Liberation Army forces during the operation were “safe and professional.” The destroyer did not come within internationally recognized 12 nautical mile territorial sea of any islands in the Paracel chain but did cross a disputed Chinese territorial line around the entire island chain. The strait baseline around the island chain has been claimed by China since the 1990s and Beijing requires warships to ask permission before operating in the chain, a stance that doesn’t line up with international maritime law.

The freedom of navigation operation was first reported by Reuters on Tuesday and is the latest under a new schedule the Office of the Secretary of Defense and U.S. Pacific Command gave to the Trump White House earlier this year.

A Pentagon spokesman told USNI News on Wednesday that the Department of Defense would not discuss freedom of navigation operations ahead of the release of an annual report of the all of the operations around the world.

The U.S. resumed semi-regular FONOps in the South China Sea testing excessive claims in late 2015 under the Obama administration with pressure from the Senate – specifically from Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

  • muzzleloader

    Keep it up. Send the whole Ronald Reagan CVG through, followed by the Theodore Roosevelt CVG when it arrives.

  • Richard Jonesy

    Ahh, let’s just stop with the “show of force” by sending in our destroyers, and start our “show of happy shiny face” by sending in the littoral combat ship, the chinese will get a good laugh and we’ll all be buddy-buddy.

    • Stephen

      You are on to something; we should request to forward deploy an LCS squadron at the Chinese port facilities in the Spratlys & Paracels.

    • El Kabong


      Look out, you’ll be on the receiving end of LCS fan-boy Duane’s ire for saying such things.

  • អាប បកប្រែ

    7 other countries live around this sea. Agressive China resorted to cruel, inhuman invasions in the absence of the US after Vietnam war to take control Paracel and Spratly islands. China slaughtered hundreds of defenseless Vietnamese on these islands in 1974 and 1988 then claim possession of sovereignty. The best is that China takes its hands off the islands, works with other countries to establish an institution like South China Sea Committee to manage and profit peacefully from this sea.

  • GoNavy

    Let us not forget the sailors and marines that gave their lives to see the Paracel and Spratly islands returned to China from Japan per Japan’s WWII surrender agreement and Peace Treaties between Japan and China that specifically name the Paracel and Spratly Islands as Chinese after WWII.

    USN Sailors actually manned a radar station on these Islands while flying a Chinese flag after WWII.

    To forget our history in this case is a tragedy!

    • GoNavy

      For those that do not know history. Here is a quote US State Dept Ambassador Chas Freeman who is an expert on the South China Sea:

      “In 1945, in accordance with the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations and with
      American help, the armed forces of the Republic of China government at
      Nanjing accepted the surrender of the Japanese garrisons in Taiwan,
      including the Paracel and Spratly Islands. Nanjing then declared both
      archipelagoes to be part of Guangdong Province. In 1946 it established
      garrisons on both Woody (now Yongxing / 永兴) Island in the Paracels and
      Taiping Island in the Spratlys.”

      • CharleyA

        That’s a dollar.

      • Stephen

        So, that sounds like the Paracels & Spratly Islands belong to ROC, Taiwan. Gets trickier with every passing day. The militarization of the islands should have been part of that agreement; barn door is wide open. Now what?

        • incredulous1

          EXACTLY – DIFFERENT CHINA, not Chairman Xi’s PRC of today that we are complaining about. Some call the RoC/Taiwan the “Real China”

  • Phong Phu

    China government as Sea robber. Although, China is second big about economics but behavior of government as robbers.

  • Jose Rizal

    “The relevant behavior of the U.S. warship has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, severely undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests”

    I’m confused, what laws and sovereignty is china talking about??

    • incredulous1

      They reference ambiguous garbage they made up about ancient maps dating back hundreds of years ago. It depends on who you ask, but they consider it absolute no matter what the UN says. They also contradict themselves as usual trying to say that Chinese laws apply in international waters. Finally, it should be noted that the PRC / CCP Ministry often issues statements that are more for internal domestic consumption and do not care what it sounds like to the rest of the world, which is why the US and allies typically ignore such bizarre statements. It’s an Asian cultural thing coupled with communism to make an odd bellicose and belligerent tone to the west.

      • Jose Rizal

        I concur

  • Jose Rizal

    Who in the world believes the chinese invented and fabricated history. Laughable really.

  • incredulous1

    PLAN / PRC / CCP keeps referring the their “territorial sea” even after the boy to which they are a signatory has ruled that it is NOT their territory. If they keep this up perhaps the UN should permanently kick them out of the security council. And just to rub their face in it [since “face” seems inordinately important to them] replace them with Japan who has petitioned to join since forever and has not engaged in any violations and has been a part of the solution to almost every UN resolution and campaign.

    As for post WWII declarations, that was a different China, not the CCP / PRC making these claims today. In fact, it was the original China that Xi Jinping threatens almost daily for which we have to intervene just to maintain the status quo. The PLAN / PRC / CCP has no right to these islands except for the three major Paracels which lie within the EEZ of Hainan’s overlay. Most belong to Vietnam or Taiwan or no one, in which case a neutral third party like the UN should establish administration over them or force a new treaty to resolve that ambiguity and place them under someone else’s administration. This wonderful China [RoC] some would refer to are not the same people who took Duncan Is and others by force, inflicting 70 casualties, capturing 50 and sinking 4 ships, from Vietnam as soon as the US withdrew from Vietnam.

    As it is the situation is not stable and the PLAN would like to make trouble to realize their Chinese dream of the First and Second Island Chain [that’s what this is really all about]. If we do nothing, soon China will claim Palau, and all the way out to Micronesia. That is not acceptable.

  • SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

    China is fully aware that the US FONOps are a rehearsal for the eventual blockade of their trade routes. Nevertheless the US will continue to provoke China until the provocations become insufferable. It’s called the American Way of (starting) War.

    • BlueSky47

      all we have to do is to stop Chinese ships from docking here in CONUS and dumping their crap, their entire economy would tank within a month, they they wouldn’t care one bit about some half submerged coral island

    • El Kabong

      Who’s invading and occupying islands in the South China Sea?

      Remind me.

    • Duane

      We Yankese have been sailing these international waters for hundreds of years, so tell me, how many blockades have we imposed on the Chinese in all that time?

      Our national maritime heritage is built upon free trade and freedom of navigation in international waters. It’s who we are. The Chinese spent most of their history isolating themselves from everyone else, when they weren’t focused mainly on killing and oppressing their own population. And now that they are gaining wealth and power, they want to put up no trespassing signs and demand obeisance to their ridiculous claims that have already been adjudicated and rejected by the international courts.

      Sorry. Ya wanna keep us out of international waters? Ya gotta make us.

      Oh, I don’t care what your screen name is (oldest trolling trick in the book is to adopt American sounding and patriotic sounding screen names)… it’s pretty obvious you’re a Chinese t-word.