China accuses U.S. of illegally entering disputed waters, heightening tensions in South China Sea

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4th December 2023 – (Beijing) China’s military has accused a U.S. combat ship of unlawfully entering waters adjacent to the Second Thomas Shoal, a contested atoll in the South China Sea. In a statement issued by China’s Southern Theatre of Operations on Monday (4th Dec), a spokesperson condemned the U.S. action, stating that it has seriously undermined regional peace and stability.

The spokesperson further accused the U.S. of deliberately disrupting the South China Sea and violating China’s sovereignty. China has been engaged in territorial disputes with several neighbouring countries over its expansive claims in the South China Sea. Recent months have witnessed confrontations between China and Philippine vessels, while China has also protested US naval patrols in the disputed areas.

In response to the U.S. ship’s presence, the spokesperson revealed that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army had deployed maritime troops to follow and monitor the vessel. Furthermore, the troops in the theatre remain on high alert at all times to firmly defend national sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard has taken action in the South China Sea in response to a surge in Chinese maritime militia vessels at a reef within the country’s exclusive economic zone. Two Philippine Coast Guard vessels were deployed on Sunday after observing a concerning increase in the number of Chinese vessels.