China is threatening to respond with force to what it considers a “provocation” by a U.S. Navy warship that sailed near a reef that the country claims as its own.
Citing a Chinese news outlet, the Washington Examiner reported that the communist regime has asserted that it “won’t accept” the U.S. military’s “hegemonic acts” in the South China Sea.
“The greatest threat to peace”
The harsh response came after the USS Benfield reportedly came within 12 miles of Meiji Reef on Wednesday.
China insists it “warned off” the Navy ship and accused America of violating Chinese sovereignty by seeking to claim “hegemony” over the area currently disputed by neighboring countries.
In an editorial published by the Global Times, Chinese authorities condemned the act as “bullying in the South China Sea,” warning that the People’s Liberation Army could conduct reconnaissance missions near U.S. military bases to teach America a lesson.
Chinese military forces will “show up at [America’s] doorstep in the not-too-distant future,” the newspaper boasted, adding that U.S. “provocations” risk sparking a war that China would win.
“If the situation goes on like this, there will sooner or later be an incident between China and the US in the South China Sea,” the editorial added. “The US is the greatest threat to peace in the South China Sea, and it may eventually ruin the peace in the region. This is not just alarmist talk.”
“Not entitled to a territorial sea”
For its part, the U.S. disputed China’s complaints of aggression and asserted that the Navy ship was demonstrating its freedom to travel in international waters.
According to the Navy, the reef, which has been developed into an artificial island and occupied by Chinese forces, “is not entitled to a territorial sea under international law.”
Furthermore, the U.S. military maintains that China’s “land reclamation efforts, installations, and structures” do not “change this characterization.”