FREEDOM OF THE SEAS: China Says PLA Scrambled Aircraft, Ships to ‘Expel’ U.S. Warship from South China Sea Island Chain.

Chinese authorities said they sortied ships and aircraft to “track, monitor, verify, identify and expel” a U.S. warship from the Paracel Island chain in the South China Sea on Tuesday, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officials said on Chinese social media.

Navy officials confirmed to USNI News that guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52) conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the vicinity of the island chain off Vietnam.

“These provocative acts by the U.S. side … have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security interests, deliberately increased regional security risks and could easily trigger an unexpected incident,” reads a statement from PLA Southern Theatre Command spokesman Li Huamin, reported the South China Morning Post.

Barry’s FONOP was “incompatible with the current atmosphere as the international community is fighting pandemic … as well as the regional peace and stability.”

The SCS is international waters, and if the mainland People’s Republic of China doesn’t support freedom of navigation, then they ought not to be allowed to engage in maritime trade.