China raises ‘combat readiness’ as USA warships enter disputed waters

China aims to build a power grid to span the South China Sea

China aims to build a power grid to span the South China Sea

China's defence ministry has protested against what it called "provocation" after USA warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by Beijing.

According to Reuters, which first reported on the operation, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Higgins, and a cruiser, USS Antietam, sailed within 12 nautical miles of islands controlled by China in the disputed Paracel Islands.

China's Defence Ministry expressed its anger, saying it had sent ships and aircraft to warn the USA warships to leave, saying they had entered the country's territorial waters without permission.

China has controlled the Paracels entirely since violently seizing Vietnam's holdings in the area in 1974.

It added that its presence in the South China Sea - which is disputed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam - was legitimate, and accused the United States of holding Cold War-style suspicions.

Last week, Chinese bombers landed on islands and reefs claimed by the Philippines, prompting Manila to take "appropriate diplomatic action" on the matter.

"US forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea", Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said. In April, Chinese ships and aircraft challenged three vessels of the Australian navy as they traveled to port calls in Vietnam.

The missions were hailed by state media as a major step in boosting the combat capabilities of the Liaoning, which was bought as a mostly empty hull from Ukraine and commissioned in 2012 along with its flight wing.

Washington has said it would like to see more global participation in its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, through which about $5trn of ship-borne trade passes each year. China's behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise'.

The Pentagon withdrew its invitation for China to participate in a multinational naval exercise the hosting this summer, in what it called "an initial response" to China's militarization of the South China Sea.

Satellite photographs taken on May 12 showed China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody Island.

The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC and previously attended by China, was billed as the world's largest global maritime exercise and held every two years in Hawaii in June and July.

The Vietnamese government protested China's move as a violation of its sovereign claim to the islands-exactly the language used by China to protest U.S. actions today after sending its own warships to warn away the Americans.

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