China has accused a U.S. Navy ship of violating its sovereignty after the USS Gabrielle Giffords appeared near the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the South China Sea.
The ship “undermined regional peace and stability” and demonstrated that the U.S. “is the biggest threat” to peace and stability in the South China Sea.
President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping smoothed over international tensions between the two countries at a meeting last month, but the governments remain at odds over American military activity in the area.
The face-to-face meeting between Biden and Xi was months in the making after several top Biden administration officials traveled to China to ease tensions. Biden came away from the meeting saying they came to several agreements, including resuming military to military communication.
The accusation Sunday highlights the strained relationship between the two countries. It’s not the first time the Chinese military has hit the U.S.
In late October, China’s defense ministry said the U.S. was the world’s biggest disruptor of peace and stability in the region after the Pentagon released an analysis of Chinese military threats. The analysis claimed that China is growing its nuclear arsenal more quickly than believed.
Chinese officials denounced the report as false and shot back at U.S. threats and worldwide military activity.
The site of the incident Sunday has been a location where China, the Philippines and the U.S. have recently been involved. In October the U.S. renewed warnings to China that it will defend the Philippines against any attack after the island nation accused China’s coastguard of intentionally hitting its vessels in the South China Sea.
The Philippine’s ships were headed toward the Second Thomas Shoal when Manila’s supply boat and coastguard ship were hit, the nation’s Secretary of Defense said.