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Global Times

PLA expels US warship trespassing Chinese territorial waters in S.China Sea

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun Published: Jan 20, 2022 07:27 PM

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) expelled a US warship that trespassed Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea on Thursday, a move experts said displays the PLA's capability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity amid several other recent US muscle-flexing moves in the region.

On Thursday, the USS Benfold guided missile destroyer illegally entered the Chinese territorial waters of Xisha Islands without authorization from the Chinese government, Senior Colonel Tian Junli, spokesperson at the PLA Southern Theater Command, said in a statement on the day.

The PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and air forces who tracked, monitored and warned the US warship away, Tian said.

This is the first time a US warship has trespassed Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea in 2022.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday that the PLA Southern Theater Command's move shows that it is fully capable of dealing with challenges brought by the US in the South China Sea.

Expelling the US warship that rudely intruded Chinese territorial waters is a necessary and powerful move, Song said. "We will do this whenever necessary."

The US move severely violated China's sovereignty and security, and is yet another solid proof of the US' navigational hegemony and militarization of the South China Sea, as facts prove that the US is the non-debatable maker of security risks in the South China Sea, as well as the biggest destroyer of peace and stability in the region, Tian said.

"We sternly demand the US to stop such provocation immediately, or it will face the serious consequences led by accidents caused by this," Tian said, noting that the command troops are always on high alert and will take resolute actions to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and peace and stability in the South China Sea.

USS Benfold's trespassing into China's territorial and internal waters of Xisha Islands on Thursday is not "freedom of navigation," but a violation of Chinese sovereignty, and a provocation which harms the peace and stability in the South China Sea, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson at the Chinese Defense Ministry , said in a statement on the day.

The latest trespassing incident comes amid the US' recent, highly concentrated military moves near China, including those by aircraft carriers and a ballistic nuclear missile submarine.

According to the fleet and marine tracker by the news website of the US Naval Institute, three US aircraft carrier strike groups, an expeditionary strike group, and an amphibious ready group, were deployed in the West Pacific as of Tuesday.

A US ballistic nuclear missile submarine made a rare port visit to Guam on Saturday, "sending a message amid increasing tensions in the Indo-Pacific region," CNN reported on Monday.

Chinese analysts pointed out that while these moves looked as if the US is applying huge pressure on China, it shows that the US has no more cards to play, as the US is forced to use nuclear deterrence in addition to regular forces.

The deployment of a large number of US military vessels near China is not only an attempt of deterrence, but also making practical exercises, as the US military seems to be determined to interfere in China's internal affairs in the Taiwan question, as well as in the South China Sea, Song said.

But the PLA is also making preparations for those challenges and will definitely safeguard China's core interests, Song said.

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