US Navy guided-missile destroyer challenged Chinese claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea.
“On January 20, USS Benfold (DDG 65) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with International law. At the conclusion of the operation, USS Benfold exited the excessive claim and continued operations in the South China Sea,” US Navy said in a statement.
“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 the South China Sea littoral nations,” the statement added.
Reacting to the event in the South China Sea, the Chinese military said in a statement, “The PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and air forces to track, monitor and drove away the destroyer with warnings.”