Military Drills In South China Sea Violate Pact: US

As China continued its military exercises in the South China Sea, the US Department of Defence once again slammed Beijing for violating “commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.”

According to an official statement by the Defence Department, China’s military exercises over the disputed territories in the South China Sea “further destabilise the situation” in the region.

“The Department of Defense is concerned about the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) recent decision to conduct military exercises, including the firing of ballistic missiles, around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on August 23-29,” according to an official statement by the Defence Department.

It further read, “Conducting military exercises over disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to easing tensions and maintaining stability. The PRC’s actions, including missile tests, further destabilise the situation in the South China Sea. Such exercises also violate PRC’s commitments under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, and call into question its motivations with ongoing negotiations for a Code of Conduct between China and ASEAN.”

“The PRC’s actions stand in contrast to its pledge to not militarise the South China Sea and are in contrast to the United States’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms,” the department added.

The US issued this statement after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Thursday drove away a US warship that trespassed into China’s territorial waters in the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea on Thursday, near an ongoing Chinese military exercise zone that reportedly featured live-fire anti-ship ballistic missile launches, according to Global Times report.

On Wednesday, China had fired two missiles including an “aircraft-carrier killer” into the South China Sea as an act of “warning” to the United States after a US spy plane allegedly intruded into its army’s no-fly airspace, a source close to the Chinese military told the South China Morning Post.

This military exercise is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbours in the South China Sea, according to the US Defence Department.

Even as the international community continues to slam China for its continuous violation of international law, Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesperson for the PLA Southern Theater Command was quoted as saying, “China has undisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters in the region, and the command troops are always on high alert to resolutely protect national sovereignty and safeguard peace and stability in the region of the South China Sea.” (ANI)

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