The European Union sided with Washington on Friday over a U.S.-Chinese patrolling incident in the South China Sea, in a move that may affect Brussels’ discussions with Beijing at next week’s Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of foreign affairs ministers.
On Tuesday, a U.S. warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of Beijing’s man-made islands in the contested Spratly archipelago, triggering a sharp reaction from China.
“The U.S. are exercising their freedom of navigation,” a senior EU official said at a briefing, chiming with the U.S. line.
A U.S. Navy spokesman had said that the patrol was part of the U.S. freedom of navigation operations meant to “protect the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law”.
The EU is concerned about Beijing’s plans to build new islands in contested waters, the EU official said, a statement that may be welcomed by other Asian nations opposing China’s claims to almost the entire South China Sea.
Read More: European Union sides with United States on South China Sea incident | Reuters