China has accused the United States of sending an unauthorized warship into its territorial waters in the disputed South China Sea, adding that it would take “necessary measures” to “safeguard its sovereignty.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry made a public statement claiming that on the evening of Jan. 17, the U.S. Navy’s USS Hopper, a guided-missile destroyer, had sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of what is known as Scarborough Shoal, a group of disputed islets that Beijing calls Huangyan Island.
When asked for comment, the Pentagon said U.S. forces “operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea.”
“All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said. “We are continuing regular FONOPs, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future.”
China unlawfully seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012, after a tense standoff that involved both countries’ naval forces.