U.S. Navy destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur made an ‘incursion’ into waters China claims to be under their territorial jurisdiction on Saturday, January 30.
Xinhua News Agency, the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China, reported that the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhongjian Dao, part of Xisha Islands which are claimed by China.
Chinese media said the move presented a threat to peace as the sail-by was set to “renew tension” between the two states. Xinhua News wrote of ‘international law irony of U.S. provocations’ arguing that the U.S. interprets international law the way it wants under Freedom of Navigation.
This ‘incursion’, as it was described in the Chinese media, follows another one from October 2015 when USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhubi Reef of the Nansha Islands in the Spratly Islands territory.
After the October 2015 sail-by US and Chinese Navy chiefs took part in a video teleconference to discuss ongoing engagements between the two navies and operations in the South China Sea and the U.S Navy Freedom of Navigation operations.
Back then, People’s Liberation Army (Navy) Commander Admiral Wu Shengli said that a minor incident could spark war if the US repeated similar actions in the future.