China Accuses US of 'Serious Military Provocation'

Defense Ministry angered by South China Sea flight
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 19, 2015 6:46 AM CST
China Accuses US of 'Serious Military Provocation'
Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., walks past a photograph showing an island that China is building on the Fiery Cross Reef as he prepares to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

China on Saturday accused the US of committing a "serious military provocation" by flying an Air Force B-52 strategic bomber over a Chinese-controlled man-made island in the South China Sea. China's Defense Ministry said in a statement that the US is deliberately raising tensions in the disputed region, where China has been aggressively asserting its claims to virtually all islands, reefs, and their surrounding seas. "The actions by the US side constitute a serious military provocation and are rendering more complex and even militarizing conditions in the South China Sea," the statement said. It demanded Washington immediately take measures to prevent such incidents.

The statement said Chinese military personnel on the island went on high alert during the Dec. 10 overflight and issued warnings demanding the aircraft leave the area. As it has in past, the ministry also said it would take whatever necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and security. The US takes no official stance on sovereignty claims in the strategically crucial 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 territorial limit. (Beijing is also fuming over a $1.8 billion US arms sale to Taiwan.)

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