The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) has sailed in the vicinity of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on May 28, the service announced.
Paracel Islands, also known as Hoàng Sa in Vietnamese and Xisha in Chinese, is a disputed group of islands in the South China Sea currently controlled and occupied by China. The islands are also claimed by Vietnam (occupied before 1974) and Taiwan.
According to the U.S. Navy, USS Mustin is underway conducting operations “in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific” region while assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.
The Chinese military accused the U.S. of “trespassing into Chinese territorial waters”.
According to Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesperson with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s Southern Theater Command (STC), the PLA STC “organized naval and air forces to conduct whole-process monitoring and verification on the US warship and warned off it”.
This is the third transit by a U.S. Navy destroyer near the Paracel Islands in the past three months. On March 10, another destroyer USS McCampbell sailed near the disputed islands. On April 28, USS Barry (DDG-52) sailed in the vicinity of the island chain.