BEIJING, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The People's Liberation Army Daily has lambasted the United States for sending a warship near Chinese islands, saying in an opinion piece on Thursday that so-called freedom of navigation (FON) operations have flouted the basic spirit of international law.
Though the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) upholds the principle of FON, there is also a balance between such freedoms and individual states' sovereignty, it said, citing some countries' practice of asking for authorization to enter or designating certain sea lanes for passage.
Yet, the United States does not recognize such a balance, deeming it harmful to its maritime supremacy, said the paper. "The United State has not, to this day, ratified UNCLOS and is not willing to see any kind of constraint on its deployment of warships."
The article noted that UNCLOS does not have a universal standard on whether warships can enjoy innocent passage in a country's territorial waters, yet what the United States has been advocating is exactly the freedom to willfully conduct military activities.
The United States likes to boast that it is a force for the greater good of world peace and routinely brings up the issue of FON, yet FON is never an issue in the South China Sea, according to the paper.
On the contrary, such FON operations have disturbed the situation and undermined regional stability, said the paper. "In fact, FON is only a tool for the United States to interfere in regional affairs, shape regional arrangements and defend its maritime supremacy."
The FON that the United States has been pursuing is not in line with what the international community is looking for, because such FON operations only serve the national interests of the United States, it added, warning that such operations can very easily cause miscalculations.
The paper ran the article after a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed "resolute opposition" to USS William P. Lawrence's illegal patrol on Tuesday in the South China Sea near Yongshu Jiao in the Nansha Islands.