U.S. says bombers didn't intend to fly over China-held islands

BEIJING -- The United States said its two B-52 bombers had no intention of flying over a Chinese-controlled man-made island in the South China Sea, after Beijing accused Washington of "a serious military provocation" in the strategic waters with overlapping claims.

See Full Article

China's Defence Ministry on Saturday accused the U.S. of deliberately raising tensions in the region, where China has been aggressively asserting its claims to virtually all islands, reefs and their surrounding seas. It reiterated that it would do whatever is necessary to protect China's sovereignty.

Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright said that the Dec. 10 mission was not a "freedom of navigation" operation and that there was "no intention of flying within 12 nautical miles of any feature," indicating the mission may have strayed off course.

The U.S. uses pre-planned freedom of navigation operations to assert its rights to "innocent passage" in other country's territorial waters.

"The United States routinely conducts B-52 training missions throughout the region, including over the South China Sea," Wright said in an email to The Associated Press. "These missions are designed to maintain readiness and demonstrate our commitment to fly, sail and operate anywhere allowed under international law."

Wright said the U.S. was "looking into the matter."

The U.S. takes no official stance on sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in international trade passes each year. However, Washington insists on freedom of navigation and maintains that China's seven newly created islands do not enjoy traditional rights, including a 12-nautical-mile (22-kilometre) territorial limit.

China's Defence Ministry demanded that Washington immediately take measures to prevent such incidents and damage to relations between the two nations' militaries.

"The actions by the U.S. side constitute a serious military provocation and are rendering more complex and even militarizing conditions in the South China Sea," the ministry said in a statement.

The statement said that Chinese military personnel on the island went on high alert during the overflights by the B-52 strategic bombers and that they issued warnings demanding the aircraft leave the area.

As is China's usual practice, the Foreign Ministry took a more diplomatic tone, saying the situation was stable.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to Berlin, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi drew a contrast between the situation in the South China Sea region and the chaos and turmoil in other parts of the world. "The situation in the South China Sea is essentially stable overall," he said.

Wang also said that while China understands the concerns of nations from outside the region -- a clear reference to the U.S. -- they should "do more to benefit peace and stability and support efforts to find a resolution through talks, and not manufacture tensions or even fan the flames."

"We don't think this is a constructive approach and will not receive the support and welcome of relevant nations," Wang said.

The Foreign Ministry said it had "lodged solemn representation with the United States" over the incident.

China's latest protest comes amid a simmering dispute over Washington's approval this past week of the first arms package in four years offered to Taiwan, Beijing's self-governing rival. Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory, demanded the deal be scrapped to avoid harming relations across the Taiwan Strait and between China and the U.S.

Beijing filed a formal diplomatic complaint and its Foreign Ministry said it would take "necessary measures, including the imposition of sanctions against companies participating in the arms sale to Taiwan."

The main contractor behind the weaponry is Raytheon. U.S. defence firms are forbidden to sell arms to China.

------

Associated Press writers Frank Jordans in Berlin and Lolita Baldor in Bahrain contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Boy left with burn-like scars from henna tattoo in Mexico

    Canada News CTV News
    It's a typical scene for beach bums on a tropical vacation: a local artist offers some seaside flare -- a braid, an anklet, or a quick henna tattoo -- and you've got yourself a souvenir. Source
  • Border arrests surge, erasing much of Trump's early gains

    World News CTV News
    SAN DIEGO -- The U.S. government on Friday announced a seventh straight monthly increase in people being arrested or denied entry along the Mexican border, erasing much of the early gains of President Donald Trump's push to tighten the border. Source
  • Huge U.S. tax bill heads for passage as Republican senators fall in line

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- After weeks of quarrels, qualms and then eleventh-hour horse-trading, Republicans revealed the details of their huge national tax rewrite late Friday -- along with announcements of support that all but guarantee approval to give U.S. Source
  • Chairs fly at political meeting, holiday bash in Mexico City

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- A dueling political meeting and holiday concert in Mexico City turned ugly with members of rival political parties hurling chairs at each other. A brief video clip posted online shows more than a dozen folding chairs flying through the air as music blares from loudspeakers. Source
  • B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets almost $1.2 million in damages

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER - A woman has been awarded almost $1.2 million by the B.C. Supreme Court after her skull was fractured 17 years ago in a pedestrian crash when she was a baby. A trial heard the unnamed woman was 16 months old and being carried by her mother across a street when they were both hit. Source
  • World unites against North Korea nuke ambitions

    World News CTV News
    North Korea's friends and enemies joined forces Friday in opposing its determination to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state and calling on leader Kim Jong Un to negotiate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula -- but the North gave no sign of budging on its nuclear ambitions. Source
  • Trudeau talks Trump in exclusive interview with CTV News: 'He's a deal-maker'

    Canada News CTV News
    It's been an eventful two years since Justin Trudeau was sworn in as prime minister, and 2017 was perhaps the most newsworthy yet. As 2018 inches closer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down with CTV National News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme to reflect on the year that was. Source
  • This Manitoba community just says no to retail pot

    Canada News CBC News
    Councillors in Gimli, Man. have voted no to allowing the retail sale of pot in the community. Earlier in December the Manitoba government gave municipalities a deadline of Dec. 22 to decide whether they wish to ban or embrace local pot sales. Source
  • Trump doesn't want to talk about Flynn pardon 'yet'

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump won't say whether he is considering a pardon for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. On Friday, Trump told reporters, "I don't want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. Source
  • Cautious Texas among last states to OK medical marijuana

    World News CTV News
    MANCHACA, Texas -- When California rings in the new year with the sale of recreational pot for the first time, Texas will be tiptoeing into its own marijuana milestone: a medical cannabis program so restrictive that doubts swirl over who will even use it. Source