China Claims It Warned Off U.S. Ship As U.S. Denies Claims

( In a stunning new development, China is claiming that U.S. Navy vessels were “warned off” of waters near the Paracel Islands by Chinese ships. The Navy has flatly denied that appraisal of the situation, citing China’s erroneous territorial claims going back several years.

The incident occurred on May 20 as U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur entered waters near the Paracel islands, also known as the Xisha islands. A statement from China’s People’s Liberation Army described the movement as a trespass into “China’s territorial waters,” that was rebuffed by PLA naval and air forces. The statement went on to say that, “The Xisha Islands are China’s inherent territory.”

The U.S. Navy responded in forceful terms, calling the PLA’s statement “false” and saying that American ships were not expelled from anywhere, much less another country’s sovereign territory.

Calling the act a “freedom of movement operation,” the Navy asserted their ships’ rights to travel international waters as allowed by international law, adding, “The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as USS Curtis Wilbur did here.”

Of course, this isn’t the first and likely won’t be the last time that China has falsely claimed territory in the South China Sea. In 1996, China drew straight baselines, what are essentially territorial claims, encompassing all the Paracel Islands, in violation of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. China continues to adhere to these boundaries despite repeated challenges from the United States and the international community.

The Navy’s statement reminded that American ships have sailed freely in the region for more than a hundred years, and they would continue to do so. It went on to describe the PLA’s statement as just the most recent episode in the Chinese government’s propaganda campaign to undermine international law and assert dominance over their neighbors in the region.

Unfortunately for the CCP, simply repeating a lie over and over again won’t make it true. And until the Chinese government can come to grips with the fact that the South China Sea is not their personal possession, we should expect more statements like this one, detached from reality.