USS Hopper conducted passage near Scarborough Shoal
The Pentagon on Tuesday denied Chinese Defense Ministry claims that one of its naval vessels drove a U.S. destroyer out of the South China Sea during a freedom of navigation operation last week. “No one runs a navy ship out of anywhere,” a senior defense official told the Washington Free Beacon. “This whole notion that we got run off is not true.”
The official was responding to a statement issued by Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian who said the USS Hopper was confronted during the passage near Scarborough Shoal, in the Spratly Islands, by the PLA navy missile destroyer Huangshan that took action to “drive it away.”
The senior official said the Chinese hailed the Hopper by radio but there was never any instance when the Hopper changed course.
The guided missile destroyer was conducting what Navy officials call an “innocent passage” operation designed to ensure that international waters such as the South China Sea remain open.
The operation was the 13th Navy warship operation in the South China Sea since 2015. China has built up some 3,200 acres of new islands in the sea and has begun building military installations, including missile batteries, on some of the islands. read more…