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PLA expels trespassing US warship from Xisha Islands, urges it to fight COVID-19 at home

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun and Guo Yuandan Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/28 21:59:48

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Tuesday expelled a US warship that trespassed into Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea as the US' move could have easily caused an accident, a Chinese military spokesperson said on Tuesday, who also urged the US side to focus on COVID-19 prevention and control at home rather than destabilizing regional security and peace.

The US Navy's recent operations near China show its own fear of losing presence and influence in the Asia-Pacific region amid multiple COVID-19 outbreaks on its warships, analysts noted.

The PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and aerial forces to follow the US guided missile destroyer USS Barry when it trespassed into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands on Tuesday, said Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesperson of the PLA Southern Theater Command, on Tuesday.

They followed and monitored its course, identified the ship, warned and expelled it, Li said.

This is the first time the PLA Southern Theater Command has actively announced an illegal trespass of a US warship into waters off the Xisha Islands, and also the first time that an announcement was made on the same day since similar arrangements began in November 2018, sources said.

The US' provocative actions seriously violated international law and related norms, seriously violated Chinese sovereignty and security interests, and intentionally increased regional security risks, Li said.

This could have easily caused an accident, and is against the context in which the international community is making concentrated efforts to fight the pandemic and the common will of countries in the South China Sea to safeguard peace and stability in the region, Li said.

According to the US Pacific Fleet's Twitter account and other media reports, US warships and aircraft have been frequently operating in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Taiwan Straits recently.

Chinese troops will resolutely fulfill their duty, safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea, Li said.

A Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday that the US was eager to show that it still had the military capability even amid multiple COVID-19 outbreaks inside its military, but this has further exposed the US' own fear that it is losing presence in the region.

China was ready to defend against US military provocations even in its prime, and expelling a destroyer is a warning to the US, showing the Chinese military is capable of and determined in safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity, the expert said.

"We urge the US side to focus on the epidemic prevention and control on its homeland, contribute more to the international fight against the pandemic and immediately stop military actions against regional security, peace and stability," Li said.

COVID-19 has broken out on the USS Kidd, another US destroyer, with 47 confirmed cases from a total of 312 personnel aboard the ship, China Central Television reported on Tuesday.

More cases have been reported on other US warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

The US should put aside its Cold War mentality, take time to test and quarantine all suspected COVID-19 cases in its military and reduce military operations like this to avoid further spread of the coronavirus, the expert said.

US military leaders are putting the lives of its soldiers at risk, always keeping so-called major rivalries between nations in mind, Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

People may die because of it, Zhang said.



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