Tensions continue to rachet up from the March 9 naval standoff between five Chinese ships and the US surveillance vessel Impeccable in the South China Sea. Beijing has sent its most powerful patrol ship to protect fishing boats and transport vessels, just a day after Barack Obama dispatched the destroyer USS Chung-Hoon to escort the Impeccable in what the US claims are international waters but which China claims as its territory. From The Times Online:
Beijing has increased tension in a disputed part of the South China Sea by sending a patrol ship to protect fishing boats after the United States deployed a destroyer in the area. The American move was in response to alleged Chinese harassment of one of its surveillance vessels.
The Yuzheng 311, a converted naval rescue vessel, is the largest and most modern patrol ship in the Chinese Navy, the Beijing News said. It was expected to arrive in the Paracel Islands today to patrol China’s exclusive economic zone and to “strengthen fishery administration” in the South China Sea. It will patrol the waters around the Paracels and the Spratly Islands, protecting Chinese fishing boats and transport vessels.
[…]The timing of the deployment of the patrol vessel appeared to be a response to a build-up of American might in the region. The United States dispatched a destroyer armed with torpedoes and missiles to escort its surveillance ships after harassment earlier this month by the Chinese Navy.
See more CDT coverage of the South China Sea naval standoff.