The Chinese military on Monday claimed that a US naval vessel had breached waters near the Second Thomas Shoal, a contentious site in the South China Sea where China and the Philippines are embroiled in a territorial dispute, Associated Press reported.
The report said that the People’s Liberation Army Southern Theater revealed that a Chinese naval force was deployed to monitor the USS Gabrielle Giffords during this incident, while the US Navy has not yet provided a response.
Tensions have escalated at the Second Thomas Shoal in recent months, as Chinese and Philippine naval and coast guard ships repeatedly confront each other.
China seeks to hinder the Philippines from resupplying and refurbishing a warship deliberately grounded in 1999 to function as a military outpost.
The Philippines, faced with China’s formidable military presence, has sought assistance from the United States. This year, they expanded the US military presence in the country and initiated joint sea and air patrols with the US.
China accuses the US of interference in distant waters and alleges that the USS Giffords’ passage near Second Thomas Shoal is escalating regional tensions.
In response to the incident, the Chinese military’s Southern Theater issued a statement asserting that the US deliberately disrupted the situation in the South China Sea, violating China’s sovereignty, security, and international laws.
China, which claims most of the reefs and outcroppings in the South China Sea, has transformed some into islands with military-runways, intensifying geopolitical tensions in the region.