The Pentagon has denied that a U.S. destroyer was driven out of the South China Sea by Chinese forces, as the country’s defense ministry has claimed.
“No one runs a navy ship out of anywhere,” an unnamed senior defense official told The Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday. “This whole notion that we got run off is not true.”
“On January 17, the U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer the USS Hopper sailed near China’s Huangyan Island without permission from the Chinese government,” read a report in the Communist Party of China’s official newspaper, People’s Daily. “The Chinese Navy immediately identified the trespassing U.S. warship and warned it leave Chinese waters. The reckless provocation ended in disgrace for the U.S. Navy.”
The official told the Free Beacon that although the Chinese did hail the ship by radio, the Hopper never deviated from its set course, and that the ship was conducting an “innocent passage” operation, the 13th warship operation conducted by the U.S. Navy in that region since 2015.
“U.S. forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told the Free Beacon. “All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”