China angry over US military ‘plans’ in disputed waters

A satellite image of vessels purportedly dredging sand at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea taken by DigitalGlobe for the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative on March 17, 2015 (AFP Photo/)

Beijing (AFP) – Beijing expressed anger Wednesday after reports the United States was considering ramping up its military presence in disputed South China Sea waters and confronting Chinese territorial claims with ships and aircraft.

Defence Secretary Ash Carter asked staff to explore sending Navy surveillance aircraft and vessels to islands which Washington believes have been rapidly built up by China in recent months, the Wall Street Journal said Tuesday, citing officials.

“We are severely concerned by relevant remarks made by the American side,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing in Beijing.

“Freedom of navigation does not mean that the military vessels or aircraft of a foreign country can wilfully enter the territorial waters or airspace of another country.”

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters approaching the coasts of its Asian neighbours, and has provoked alarm with increasingly bold actions…