Tensions are rising again between two of the world's most powerful nations. In an act of defiance, the U.S. Navy boldly ignored China's maritime rules when one of its warships sailed through the South China Sea this week.
The USS Benfold, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, sailed around the Spratlys Islands, but the 7th Fleet Public Affairs made it clear that its recent act is in full compliance with the international law of the seas. And while it may not have violated any global policies, it has certainly breached China's own maritime rules.
"This freedom of navigation operation ("FONOP") upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea. The USS Benfold demonstrated that Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation in its natural state, is not entitled to a territorial sea under international law," the 7th Fleet Public Affairs said in quotes by the Washington Examiner.
China, known for its strict rules when it comes to maritime matters, has set new identification policies this month that it plans to implement throughout the South China Sea.
And with the U.S. Navy's recent action, the Chinese government immediately responded by saying that the United States has clearly disrespected its maritime rules.
Colonel Tian Junli, the representative for China's Southern Theatre Command, said that the U.S Navy's actions were clearly illegal in every way and "violated China's security and sovereignty."
He added that no one in their ranks has given approval to the USS Benfold guided-missile destroyer to enter the South China Sea.
As an immediate response, the Chinese air force conducted a follow-up surveillance and issued a warning to the ship to change course and leave the area.
The 7th Fleet flatly denied all China's accusations and reiterated that its maneuvers are in line with the international laws.
Meanwhile, the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is also currently operating in the South China Sea, carrying F-35 stealth fighters, in a first for the service.
Lt. Cmdr. Miranda Williams of USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs confirmed the naval assault group is conducting maritime security operations in the area.