US destroyer sails close to Scarborough Shoal

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On the evening of January 17, a United States Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Hopper (DDG-70) sailed within 12 nautical miles off Scarborough Shoal, the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed January 20.

Scarborough Shoal is well within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone and is an an integral part of the Philippine territory. However, China is also claiming ownership of the said shoal.

“On the night of January 17, the USS Hopper missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles off China’s [Scarborough Shoal] without gaining permission from the Chinese government,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said.

USS Hopper (DDG 70). US Navy file photo

“The Chinese Navy carried out identification and verification procedures in accordance with law and warned the US vessel to leave. What the US vessel did violated China’s sovereignty and security interests, put the safety of Chinese vessels and personnel who were in the relevant waters for official duties under grave threat, and contravened the basic norms for international relations,” he added.

The Chinese spokesperson said China is strongly dissatisfied and will take necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty.

“We strongly urge the US side to immediately correct its mistake and stop making such provocative moves so as to avoid undermining China-US relations and regional peace and stability,” he added.

Sources: http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2012/04/18/philippine-position-on-bajo-de-masinloc-and-the-waters-within-its-vicinity/; http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/t1527341.shtml