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China threatened the U.S. Navy on Friday with “serious consequences” after a warship passed through the South China Sea near the contested Paracel Islands.
For the second day in a row, Beijing accused the U.S. of violating the sovereignty and security of the island, which it currently occupies but which Taiwan and Vietnam also lay claim over.
The U.S. rejected China’s accusations and said its passage through the waters is permitted under international law and falls under a “freedom of navigation operation” – which challenges attempted restrictions by all three nations to enforce a policy of permission or advanced notice by any military vessel before it can pass by.
An infographic titled “South China Sea a hotbed of sovereignty disputes between China, coastal countries” created in Ankara, Turkiye on Jan. 6, 2023. (Omar Zaghloul/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” spokesperson Lt. j.g. Luka Bakic for the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement.
“The United States challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant,” he added.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Milius passed the islands for a second day in a row after China first took issue with its passage Thursday.
A general view shows the USS Milius (DDG-69), a multi-mission capable guided missile destroyer ship docked at the Manila South Harbor. (NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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China’s Ministry of National Defense accused the U.S. of “undermining the peace and stability of the South China Sea.”
“The act of the U.S. military seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, severely breached international laws, and is more ironclad evidence of the U.S. pursuing navigation hegemony and militarizing the South China Sea,” ministry spokesperson Tan Kefei claimed. “We solemnly request that the U.S. immediately stop such actions of provocation, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of unexpected incidents caused by this.”
The spokesman added that China would take “all necessary measures” to safeguard its security but did not elaborate on the threat.
An aerial view of Qilianyu islands in the Paracel chain, which China considers part of Hainan province on August 10, 2018. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Beijing repeated its claim that it drove away the U.S. ship from the waters – a description of subsequent events that the Navy again was inaccurate.
Bakic said the vessel was “not driven away” and “continued on to conduct routine maritime security operations in international waters.”
“The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as Milius did today,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Caitlin McFall is a Reporter at Fox News Digital covering Politics, U.S. and World news.