In the South China Sea, the USS Mustin made a freedom of navigation operation (FONOPs) close to the Paracels or Xisha district of China. The Chinese claim that they expelled the Guide Missile destroyer without any contact.
By definition, a FONOPs mean entry into contested waters and a cruise through it. But the Chinese define expulsion as travelling a straight line (uncontested) in their perceived territory, reported by Newsweek.
Now, the US is cautioning the claim of expulsion in the Paracel islands as dangerous to all sea travel, that cannot stand against the PLAN in the SCS. Chinese actions will have a serious impact on ships, passing these seal lanes.
According to the official line of the Chinese military that once again said it drove away the USS Mustin from Chinese island they claim as theirs, though the US Navy thinks otherwise when it comes to international law.
The Chinese military claimed to send off a U.S. warship near the Paracel islands, the Navy contended the vessel was sailing legally, according to Senior Colonel Li Huamin of Chinese People's Liberation Army's Southern Theater Command.
On Thursday, military sources claim that the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin entered close to the Paracel Island or Xisha. Li claimed that Chinese units blocked the cruise of the destroyer, but the ship sailed in and out which means 'expelling', confirmed by HeadTopics.
Li said that the US ship has seriously undermined the sovereignty and security of China, and broke laws that imbalance peace and stability. He added that the American FONOPs violated navigational hegemony.
Pacific Fleet Spokesperson Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Rachel Maul, informed Newsweek that the USS Mustin has the navigational rights and freedoms in the Paracel Islands, in line with international laws.
Maul added that freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) observes the international legal restrictions on passing sea lanes, and questioning China's claims that the Paracel Islands is theirs.
Chinese claims in the South China Sea is a threat to all nations in the area. But limiting freedom of navigation with overflight and the right of others to pass by these sea lanes is a different story.
China and the US have signed the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The US is the only one who made it legal. Beijing finds the law a threat to its over-reaching ambitions to control the SCS, exclusively finding the US challenges an obstacle to full dominance in the growing regional flashpoint.
A month earlier, the US and China traded barbs as the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry and the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill did FONOPs of the Spratlys and Paracel Islands that had the Chinese getting up in a bunch. They claim that they expelled the US ships. One ship, the USS Barry, loiter 12-miles from the Paracel Island and left when done with the Chinese waiting to claim they got expelled. Later, they brought in the big one, Chinese Type 001 aircraft carrier Liaoning and other ships as a show of force passing areas close to Taiwan to the South China Sea, report by NBCNews.
The US did one better, by sending two B-1B bombers on a mission in the SCS, courtesy of the air force. By doing so, they were showing China that the US has assets anywhere and anytime, according to an Air Force spokesman.
The FONOPs of the USS Mustin is just the tip of the spear.There is a lot more for China to worry about.