China says it ‘drove away’ U.S. warship

Stop provocative actions, says Beijing

China’s military said it “drove away” a U.S. warship that illegally entered Chinese waters near the Paracel Islands on Monday, the anniversary of an international court ruling that held Beijing had no claim over the South China Sea.

The USS Benfold entered the waters without China’s approval, seriously violating its sovereignty and undermining the stability of the South China Sea, the southern theatre command of the People’s Liberation Army said.

“We urge the United States to immediately stop such provocative actions,” it said in a statement.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China had no historic title over the South China Sea, a ruling that Beijing said it would ignore.

The Benfold asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands consistent with international law, the U.S. Navy said in a statement on Monday.

The islands are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, which require either permission or advance notification before a military vessel passes through.

“Under international law, the ships of all states enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea," the U.S. Navy added. “By engaging in innocent passage without giving prior notification, the U.S. challenged these unlawful restrictions imposed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam."

Hundreds of other islands, reefs and atolls in there source-rich waterway are contested by Brunei, China, Malaysia and the Philippines, with China claiming rights to resources within its so-called nine-dash line, or most of the region.

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