PLA expels US warship trespassing South China Sea

By Liu Xuanzun Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/22 18:22:56

Led by the guided-missile frigate Yongzhou (Hull 628), a frigate flotilla with the navy under the PLA Southern Theater Command steams in formation in an undisclosed sea area during a maritime training exercise in early December 2020. ( by Chen Tanggui)

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command on Tuesday warned away a US warship that trespassed the South China Sea, leading analysts to say the PLA has again demonstrated its control over the region and ability to safeguard national sovereignty and security.

US destroyer USS John S. McCain trespassed into waters near China's Nansha Islands without the authorization of the Chinese government, and the PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and aerial forces, and warned and expelled it, said Senior Colonel Tian Junli, a spokesperson at the PLA Southern Theater Command, in a statement.

The US warship's trespass came only one day after China's first self-made aircraft carrier Shandong entered the South China Sea for exercises, showing US' mentality of confrontation and troublemaking, analysts said.

The US action was a serious violation of China's sovereignty and security, and it gravely disrupted peace and stability in the South China Sea, which China is resolutely against, Tian said, noting that the command troops are on high alert at all times and will firmly carry out their duties and missions to safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the region.

Since the statement by the PLA Southern Theater Command was released early on Tuesday afternoon, it means that the command troops must have detected, tracked, identified and warned away the US warship very quickly earlier in the day, Chinese military observers said.

The US' "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea have become routine since 2017, and by conducting a new one at this time, the Trump administration is using its last month to leave president-elect Joe Biden with more trouble in US-China relations, Chen Xiangmiao, an assistant research fellow at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The US has conducted similar operations nine times so far in 2020, the most often in the past five years, according to South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, a Beijing-based think tank.

On Monday, the PLA Navy announced that the Shandong aircraft carrier group on Sunday sailed through the Taiwan Straits and entered the South China Sea for exercises. The Shandong is expected to be based in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, on the doorstep of the South China Sea.

Chen said that it remains uncertain if the US warship's trespassing is related to the Shandong's exercises, but it is unquestionable that the US warship came to provoke China.

Recently, a battalion attached to the PLA 79th Group Army conducted a precision strike exercise against a moving maritime target with the PHL-03 long-range multiple launch rocket system for the first time, China Central Television reported on Saturday.

This means the PLA Army is now capable of precision anti-ship operations with long-range rocket artillery, and the PLA will further integrate with other military arms in joint operations, Shanghai-based news website said on Monday.

Hostile ships near China's coast, islands and reefs will face coordinated attacks from artilleries of the PLA Army, surface ships and submarines of the Navy, warplanes of the Air Force and anti-ship ballistic missiles of the Rocket Force, analysts said.


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