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

  • Italian PM Renzi quits as search begins for new leader

    World News CTV News
    ROME -- Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned Wednesday evening, his self-inflicted penalty for staking his job on constitutional changes voters resoundingly rejected earlier in the week. He will stay in a caretaker's role at the request of Italy's president until a new government can be formed. Source
  • Winnipeg man pleads guilty to bigamy

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A former Winnipeg man married to two women for more than a year has learned what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. The 43-year-old man pleaded guilty in Winnipeg court Wednesday to one count of bigamy. Source
  • Rescuers search through Indonesia quake rubble for second day

    World News CTV News
    MEUREUDU, Indonesia - Rescue workers, soldiers and police combed through the rubble of a devastated town in Indonesia's Aceh province Thursday, resuming a search for earthquake survivors that was halted at night by rain and blackouts. Source
  • Mississippi teacher barred for 12 years after dragging student by hair

    World News Toronto Sun
    JACKSON, Miss. — Fired, criminally charged and with her state teaching license on the line, Linda Winters-Johnson admitted Wednesday that she’d been wrong to drag a special education student by the hair across the gym floor at Greenville High School. Source
  • New York restaurant threatened by Pizzagate hoax callers

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A popular New York restaurant has become the latest victim of a fake-news conspiracy about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza joint. Roberta's, a Brooklyn restaurant known for its wood-fired pizza, received telephone calls threatening its employees, police confirmed on Wednesday. Source
  • Mom on the run

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    She’s Canada’s most wanted fugitive. But she’s also mom — one whose family insists she’s not a criminal but just trying to protect her nine-year-old daughter. Child abductor or protector? However it’s sorted out, the manhunt is on for Allana Haist. Source
  • New trial order for mom accused of having sex with kids' underage friend

    Canada News CTV News
    REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for a woman accused of having sex with the underage friend of her teenage children. The order was made after the Crown appealed a Court of Queen's Bench ruling that acquitted Barbara George, who was 35 at the time, of sexual assault and sexual interference. Source
  • Ohio House committee approves 20-week abortion ban

    World News CTV News
    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Abortions would be banned after 20 weeks under a bill that Republican lawmakers hope to pass Thursday and add to legislation already on its way to GOP Gov. John Kasich that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Source
  • Trump's China ambassador pick member of Freemasons, banned in China

    World News CTV News
    OMAHA, Neb. -- If Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad becomes the next U.S. Ambassador to China, he may want to leave any Masonic symbols at home. That's because the Freemasons group that Branstad belongs to has been banned in mainland China for decades. Source
  • Dolly Parton organizing telethon for Tenn. wildfire victims

    World News CTV News
    NASHVILLE -- Country icon Dolly Parton has organized a musical telethon to raise money for victims of the Tennessee wildfires that destroyed more than 1,700 homes in the resort town of Gatlinburg. The event, which will air Dec. Source