BEIJING – China's military will take "all necessary" measures in response to any future U.S. Navy incursions into what it considers its territorial waters around islands in the South China Sea, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
The statement by Col. Yang Yujun followed the sailing of a U.S. guided missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of one of the islands newly created by China in the strategically vital region. The U.S. refuses to recognize the man-made islets as deserving of sovereign territory status.
Yang reiterated Beijing's claim that the USS Lassen violated Chinese sovereignty and international law, although the sail-by appeared to fall under internationally allowed "innocent passage" rules. Yang gave no details of China's claims, and offered no specifics about how Beijing would respond in the future.
The Chinese side took no immediate action during the Lassen's sail-past on Tuesday, but strenuously protested the maneuver.
In recent years when China has asserted what it considers its sovereignty rights or its right to monitor and control navigation in the South China Sea or the East China Sea, U.S. acts of defiance against those claims have been met with protests but not military action.
Yang said the commander of the Chinese navy, Adm. Wu Shengli, would present China's "solemn position" on the issue in a video conference later Thursday with the U.S. head of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson.