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‘Accordance with international law!’ US blasts China over claims ship broke maritime rules

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Bill Hayton discusses economic impact of South China Sea tensions

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The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement the Chinese government’s accusation the ship entered without permission was “false.” The new maritime laws put in place by China includes the disputed waters and states that any foreign vessel entering the waters must give notice to Beijing.

According to the navy the USS Benfold participated in a 7th Fleet “Freedom of Navigation Operation” 12 nautical miles off Mischief Reef on Wednesday.
The statement said: “The PRC’s statement about this mission is false.

“USS Benfold conducted this [operation] in accordance with international law and then continued on to conduct normal operations in international waters.”

“Under international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, features like Mischief Reef that are submerged at high tide in their naturally formed state are not entitled to a territorial sea.

“The land reclamation efforts, installations, and structures built on Mischief Reef do not change this characterization under international law.”

The USS Benfold, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer sailed within 12 miles of Mischief Reef, a section of the Spratly Islands.

In 2017 it was reported China built several military installations on the Spratly Islands including on the Mischief Reef.

China suggests the US Navy ship did break the law by sailing past the islands as the spokesperson for China’s Air Force bashes the move as “violating China’s sovereignty and security.”

“On September 8th, the USS Benfold guided missile destroyer illegally broke into the waters adjacent to the Mischief Reef of Nansha islands without the approval of the Chinese government,” Air Force Col. Tian Junli, spokesperson for China’s Southern Theater Command, said in a statement.

“The activity has seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security.

US navy warships often sail past the disputed islands, causing criticism from China.

This follows as China introduced a Maritime Traffic Safety Law on September 1 requiring all foreign vessels entering Chinese waters to carry permits and inform maritime authorities of their entry.

Foreign vessels have to report their call signs and cargo before entering China’s territorial sea.

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The notice said: “In case the vessel fails to report as required. The maritime administration will deal with it according to relevant laws, regulations, rules and provisions.”

According to Taipei Times, China’s new regulations to increase regulation on foreign ships is creating a fear of a “ticking time bomb” for conflict in the South China Sea.

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