US Navy says China statement on US destroyer expelled from South China Sea is ‘false’

China accused the USS Milius of illegally intruding into its territorial waters. PHOTO: USS MILIUS (DDG 69)/FACEBOOK

BEIJING - China’s military said on Thursday it monitored and drove away a US destroyer that had illegally entered waters around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

In a statement, the military said that without the approval of the government, the guided-missile destroyer Milius illegally intruded into China’s territorial waters, undermining peace and stability in the busy waterway.

“The theatre forces will maintain a high state of alert at all times and take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security and peace and stability in the South China Sea,” said Mr Tian Junli, a spokesman for China’s Southern Theatre Command.

The United States Navy on Thursday said the Chinese military statement saying it drove away a US destroyer from the South China Sea was false.

“The USS Milius is conducting routine operations in the South China Sea and was not expelled. The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” a statement from the US Navy 7th Fleet said.

Tension between the US and China has been growing in the area.

The US has been shoring up alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to counter China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, as Beijing seeks to advance its territorial claims. REUTERS

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