The US has refuted the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) claims that a US Navy vessel trespassed into its maritime zone in the South China Sea.

According to US Indo-Pacific Command’s (USINDOPACOM) statement, the PRC’s claims about its freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) that was carried out in compliance with international laws is ‘false’.

On 29 November, the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) conducted its routine FONOP in waters near the Spratly Islands.

In response to this, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command released a statement claiming that the US warship had ‘trespassed’ into its maritime zone near China’s Nansha Islands.

Chinese PLA Southern Theater Command spokesperson and Air Force senior colonel Tian Junli said: “The USS Chancellorsville’s illegal behaviour seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security and served as a new irrefutable proof of the US military’s practice of navigation hegemony and militarisation of South China Sea, which fully demonstrated that the US is a complete risk-maker for the security of [the] South China Sea.”

Despite this, the US dismissed all such claims and said that CG 62 exited the excessive claim area soon after the completion of its mission.

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The USINDOPACOM statement added: “The PRC’s behaviours stand in contrast to the United States’ adherence to international law and our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

The territorial claims over the Spratly Islands have been made by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines for years now.

The US regularly conducts FONOP in the South China Sea and has long opposed China’s claims.

Such a dispute also emerged between the US and China in 2020, as the US Navy’s vessels carried out dual carrier operations in the South China Sea.