Tensions along the South China Sea are on the rise, especially after a recent showdown of military might between the Chinese military and U.S. Navy. China is even referring to its latest encounter with the U.S. as a “serious provocation.”
It seems that China has had enough of the U.S. as it answers with military might in the face of recent Chinese aggression against U.S. allies, particularly the Philippines.
Earlier this year, the U.S. has expressed its commitment to send more troops and build more bases in the Philippines following the increased aggressive actions of China aimed toward staking further claim on the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
Last month, U.S. had also detected two Chinese fighter jets flying on Wood Island, which is the largest island in the Paracel chain of islands that China has been trying to claim from Taiwan and Vietnam.
This time, China is saying that the U.S. made a move first. In fact, China’s Ministry of National Defense says it was forced to respond with “countermoves” when the USS William P. Lawrence entered the waters near Yongshu Reef in China’s Nansha Islands along the South China Sea illegally.
In response, China scrambled two J-11 fighter jets along with one Y-8 AWACs from the PLA Navy’s aviation force.
Following the incident, Chinese Defense Ministry Senior Col. Yang Yujun remarked, “We cannot help but ask how far the U.S. tries to go on the way of pushing forward militarization of the South China Sea and undermining the peace and stability in that region.”
Moreover, he also pointed out that recent “provocations by U.S. warships and aircraft” justified China’s construction of defense facilities on related islets and reefs along the Nansha islands.
According to a report from Reuters, the U.S. was undergoing a freedom of navigation operation aimed to “challenge, excessive maritime claims” by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, which would end up restricting navigation rights in the South China Sea.
For the said operation, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban said the guided missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence traveled within 12 nautical miles of the Fiery Cross Reef that was occupied by the Chinese.