A Chinese warship shadowed a US destroyer conducting a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea on Tuesday, as Beijing and Moscow flew bombers in a joint-patrol mission over the Western Pacific, according to reports.
Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain conducted the operation in the South China Sea to send a message to China over its disputed territory in the Spratly Islands, Fox News reported.
“This freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan,” the 7th Fleet Public Affairs wrote in a statement, the report said.
“All interactions with foreign military forces were consistent with international norms and did not impact the operation.”
McCain was shadowed by a Chinese warship but all interactions were considered “safe and professional,” an official told Fox News.
The US ship sailed by Gaven Reef and Johnson South Reef in the Spratly Islands, which China has claimed and bolstered with weapons and a military base.
Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines also claim sovereignty over the islands.
“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” the 7th Fleet’s statement said.
China and Russia also displayed their deepening military ties by sending bombers over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.
The Russian Defense Ministry said two Tu-95 strategic bombers joined four Chinese H-6K bombers in a joint mission intended to “develop and deepen the comprehensive Russia-China partnership, further increase the level of cooperation between the two militaries, expand their ability for joint action and strengthen strategic stability.”
It said the flights were not “directed against any third countries.”
Beijing and Moscow have sought to strengthen military cooperation as their relationships with Washington have become more strained.
With Post Wires.