“The US is the biggest threat to peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Says China
China has proclaimed that a United States naval vessel unlawfully entered its territorial waters in the South China Sea. According to Chinese authorities, the USS Gabrielle Giffords intruded near the Second Thomas Shoal, a part of the Spratly Islands embroiled in a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines. The incident prompted the deployment of a Chinese naval force on Monday to monitor and track the USS Gabrielle Giffords, a littoral combat ship designed for nearshore operations, with Beijing accusing the United States of escalating tensions in the region.
In a statement on the official WeChat account of China’s Southern Theater Command, a spokesperson asserted, “The U.S. infringes China’s sovereignty and safety, disrupts regional peace and stability, and violates international law and the basic norms of international relations.” The United States Navy swiftly dismissed China’s allegations, maintaining that the USS Giffords was engaged in routine operations within international waters in the South China Sea, adhering to international law.
The People’s Liberation Army contended that the US ship had entered the Second Thomas Shoal “illegally” without permission. The PLA’s Southern Theatre Command accused the United States of deliberately disrupting the South China Sea, undermining China’s sovereignty, and said “that the US is the biggest threat to peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
The USS Gabrielle Giffords, an Independence-class littoral combat ship, had recently conducted joint operations with the Philippines Navy in the South China Sea. The Philippines has stationed troops at the shoal since deliberately grounding the BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II-era warship, in 1999 to establish a military outpost.
The Chinese military insisted that the US intervention in the South China Sea, far from its shores, illustrates American interference and exacerbates regional tensions. Beijing, which claims the majority of the South China Sea despite contrary international tribunal rulings, accused Manila of collaborating with the US to counterbalance China’s military dominance. In response, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, based in Japan, emphasized its commitment to upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific region, ensuring nations’ sovereignty, resolving disputes peacefully, and navigating in accordance with international laws, rules, and norms.