The Chinese military is closely monitoring a US Navy guided-missile destroyer transiting the South China Sea on Tuesday (April 28).
When US destroyer Barry trespassed into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands on Tue, the PLA Southern Theater Command coordinated with naval and air forces to follow its course; they identified the ship, warned and expelled it:PLA Southern Theater Command spokesperson
The People's Daily, quoting senior colonel Li Huamin, spokesperson for the Chinese Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command, said a US warship entered the "territorial waters off Xisha Islands in the South China Sea without China's permission. The Southern Theater Command of PLA deployed air and navy forces to monitor and verify the ship, and warned it to leave."
Bloomberg reports that the "Chinese navy followed and expelled it [US Navy warship]," citing a PLA Daily report.
Huamin went on to say, the US Navy violated "relevant international law and was a serious infringement of China's sovereignty."
CGTN News said China urged the US to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding across the country rather than conduct freedom of navigation missions in the South China Sea.
The PLA has spent the last 3 to 4 weeks ramping up military operations in the highly contested waters as the pandemic sweeps across the world.
The US blasted China last week for its "bullying behavior" in the region. The US State Department recently said China is taking advantage of the region's focus on the COVID-19 pandemic to "coerce its neighbors."
China sailed its only aircraft carrier, called Liaoning, around Taiwan's east coast earlier this month, enraging Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and Western powers.
China's aggression in the South China Sea comes as four US Navy aircraft carriers — the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Carl Vinson, and the USS Nimitz — have reported cases of coronavirus, crimping their operations.
Things are certainly heating up again in the South China Sea. This is an area to monitor for future flare-ups.
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