China claimed on Friday that a US warship had "again trespassed" into South China Sea waters and warned Washington that such provocative actions would have "serious consequences."
Tan Kefei, a spokesman for China's Defense Ministry, said in a statement that the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius “broke into China’s territorial waters off Xisha again without the approval of the Chinese government.”
Accusing the US of “undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Tan said: “The actions of the US military have seriously violated China's sovereignty and security, and seriously violated international law.”
It is the second day in a row that Beijing has warned off the US warship.
A day earlier, Tian Junli, a senior air force colonel and spokesman for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Front Command, had said his combined Chinese forces had expelled a US warship after it “trespassed” into Chinese territorial waters near the Xisha Islands.
Urging Washington to “immediately stop such provocative actions,” the Chinese defense ministry spokesman Tan warned: “otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of the accident caused by it.”
He said the PLA “will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security, and resolutely maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
The mineral-rich warm waters of the South China Sea have long been the subject of contention between China and some regional countries, with the US siding with countries opposing China’s claims.
Washington has frequently sailed its warships and flown its fighter jets over the warm waters of the South China Sea under the so-called "freedom of navigation," which Beijing has repeatedly called a violation of its territorial integrity.