China warns United States over South China Sea deployment

By Elizabeth Shim  |  Feb. 23, 2017 at 9:46 AM
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Feb. 23 (UPI) -- China issued a warning to the United States on Thursday in response to the deployment of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the South China Sea.

Beijing's new defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang told reporters at a regular press briefing the United States should respect the sovereignty and security of China, a reference to the aircraft carrier deployment that began last week.

Ren also said China will respect freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea, rights that are protected under international law, Yonhap news agency reported.

The ministry spokesman also said the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable and that Beijing hopes the United States would contribute to the status quo.

Ren added a country "outside of the area" like the United States should not create military threats or raise tensions.

China has been closely monitoring the movements of the USS Carl Vinson since it began traveling to the South China Sea on Friday.

The U.S. Navy has said the aircraft carrier is conducting training operations in the disputed maritime region.

The Chinese navy has also been strengthening its defenses, commissioning a new training ship, the Qijiguang, which can accommodate more than 400 navy cadets, according to PLA Daily.

On Thursday Ren said, "China has made great strides in the field of building defense, has maintained strategies and policies of national defense, and focused on preserving peace and stability in the world and the region."

But not all of China's neighbors may agree Beijing has been contributing to regional stability.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has become increasingly concerned about the militarization of the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands, and is worried about the "escalation of activity in the area which may further raise tensions and erode trust and confidence in the region."

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