China says its navy warned off US destroyer in Scarborough

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said during May 20 press conference that Chinese PLA Navy warned off United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Preble (DDG-88) in Scarborough Shoal.

“[O]n the morning of May 20, USS Preble trespassed into the adjacent waters of Scarborough Shoal without permission from the Chinese government. The Chinese Navy identified and verified the US warship according to law, and warned it off,” the Chinese spokesperson said.

He also noted that “the trespass of US warship is a violation of China’s sovereignty. It undermines peace, security and good order in the relevant waters. China firmly opposes such move.”

He described the action as “unpopular” that “disrupts regional peace and stability time and again under the pretext of freedom of navigation and overflight.”

“China has all along respected and protected the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea that countries are entitled to under international law. However, China is firmly opposed to actions that undermine its sovereignty and security under the pretext of freedom of navigation and overflight,” he added.

United States Navy 7th Fleet spokesperson Commander Clay Doss said, as quoted by Reuters, “Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”

Preble is currently deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.