KEY POINTS

  • China called USS Benfold a "habitual offender in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits" 
  • The Global Times report said PLA has a series of contingency plans to counter U.S. warships 
  • It added the U.S. was provocatively sending warships through Taiwan Straits every month

Close on the heels of a U.S. Navy spy plane flying over the Taiwan Strait, a U.S. warship too entered the South China Sea, infuriating Beijing, which promised to "deal with any aggression."

According to the Beijing-based think-tank South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, the USS Benfold destroyer entered the South China Sea through the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines on Saturday.

The transit of the destroyer has triggered China, which is reflected in an article that appeared in the Chinese state-backed Global Times. The report tagged USS Benfold a "habitual offender in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits" and said the U.S. vessel's aim was to "stir up trouble."

Quoting analysts, the report said it was possible that the warship would attempt to trespass into Chinese territorial waters in the South China Sea or transit the Taiwan Straits to provocatively challenge China's stance over its rights in the region.

"The PLA has a series of contingency plans to counter activities by U.S. warships and warplanes in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits."

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday. He also warned the U.S. not to take the PLA's restraint as a weakness, as the PLA will take resolute measures to counter any threat that endangers China's sovereignty and security.

The Beijing-based media CCP mouthpiece also flayed the U.S. for "provocatively sending warships through the Taiwan Straits on a monthly basis." "But it has seemingly not sent one warship in June as of yet, and instead sent a military aircraft," said the report.

This comes as U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon transited the Taiwan Strait in international airspace on June 24. Beijing had protested the aircraft's presence in the Strait, which according to Beijing is its territorial waters by mobilizing air and ground forces to monitor and guard the entire operation of the U.S. aircraft.

The transit of the USS Benfold and the spy plane is significant as it comes days after China reasserted that the Taiwan Strait "is not international waters." According to the U.S., P-8A Poseidon's flight demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The destroyer had reportedly sailed through the disputed waters of the South China Sea last January too. Beijing had then alleged that the vessel entered the Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea without authorization from the Chinese government.

China accused the United States of 'creating risks' in the South China Sea after the USS Curtis Wilbur (pictured here in 2018) sailed through disputed waters
Representation. A file picture of a U.S. Navy warship sailing through the disputed waterways of South China Sea. US NAVY / Benjamin DOBBS
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