Images credit to aseanmildef.com

China angered and denounced what it called an illegal, dangerous and provocative act of the three United States destroyers recently patrols nearly close to Chinese-held features in the disputed South China Sea, that would likely to fuel tension as the court ruling nears over China’s questionable maritime claims.

The patrols were first reported by the Washington-based Navy Times newspaper, it said that according to a US navy officials on Thursday, the US destroyers Stethem, Spruance, and Momsen have been patrolling near Chinese-held reefs and artificial islands in the Spratlys archipelago and the Scarborough Shoal, which is inside the Philippines 200 mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans (Released)

A high-level clearance is required to launch this so-called freedom of navigation wherein the destroyers were safely operated within 14 to 20 nautical miles of the Chinese-occupied features, not close enough to be within the required 12 nautical miles limits, the Navy Times reported.

Tension has been rising in the region prior to the July 12 ruling by an arbitration court ruling on the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea.

The United States insisted that China should follow the rule of law and that the UNCLOS court ruling are binding and an important test of Beijing’s willingness to adhere to international law.

A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement that the three U.S. vessel entered Chinese waters “illegally and without the Chinese government’s permission,” made the Chinese authorities monitored their activities and warned them as it passed.

“We reiterated that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to judge the case as it is related to China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime demarcation,” Chinese foreign ministry added.

China has refused to participate in the proceedings and declared that it won’t recognize the verdict. Instead, they are willing to go for an armed confrontation, as reported by the state-run newspaper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily. – Robert Beelak

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